Notes and Editorial Reviews
String Quartet No. 2.
3 Movements for Harp and Woodwind Quintet.
Drums. Homage to William Booth.
Jiri Malat (cond);
Yang Hong Nian (cond);
Beijing Children’s Ch;
Daniel Schweizer (cond);
Mondial Str Qrt;
Deborah Hofmann (hp);
New York Ww Qnt;
Sarah Maeder (mez);
Michiko Tsuda (pn);
Horst Hofmann (xyl);
Hans Moeckel (cond);
Marsha Chow (org);
Joe Kirtley (cond);
Hong Kong APA Br Ens;
Peter W. Cooper (ob);
Alexander Rahbari (cond);
GALLO CD-1284 (70:02)
Here’s a question for the next Netflix commercial: If Edward German was English, and Einar Englund was Finnish, what nationality is Heinrich Schweizer?
CORRECT! Not that you’ll find a single word about Schweizer, though, in the brief notes to the CD in hand. Born in 1943, he completed most of his studies in his native country, learning violin, clarinet, bassoon, and piano in addition to composition. His interest in folk music is quite evident on the present disc, where one finds works devoted to regions including Europe, Asia, America, and Africa.
The production of this CD leaves a lot to be desired. It seems to have been compiled with scant thought about any flow from one work to the next. I suspect that you will find it quite jarring, as I did, to hear the shift from the orchestral recording on the first two tracks to a children’s choral work, recorded in a completely different acoustic environment, and with virtually no separation between the pieces. This pattern continues through the entire CD, which despite being on a fairly major Swiss label, has a distinctly amateurish appearance. What I suspect happened was that Gallo simply assembled this CD from various tapes of his music that Schweizer had accumulated over the years.
The music—the reason anyone would buy this—is, at least, enjoyable. Schweizer is first and foremost a melodist, whose tunes swirl forth with a delightful exuberant spirit. Prime examples are the opening Sinfonietta or the Concertino for Oboe and Orchestra. Well,
of it is enjoyable, anyway. I found his String Quartet No. 2 to be a shapeless exercise in note-spinning that goes exactly nowhere. Much more effective was the following Three Movements for Harp and Woodwind Quintet, the middle movement of which is based on
America the Beautiful.
Performances range from professional (those by the Pilsen RSO or the London PO) to strictly amateur (the renditions by the Beijing Children’s Choir). The Mondial String Quartet appears to be somewhere in the middle, sounding about on the order of one of the student quartets that one hears at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music here in Bloomington.
While I don’t believe that this CD will change your mind about the fact that Switzerland has produced fewer first-rate composers than have similar-sized Belgium, Holland, and Finland, there is some enjoyable music to be found here, and it will pose few difficulties even for listeners whose ears are not fully acclimated to the trends in contemporary music.
FANFARE: David DeBoor Canfield
Works on This Recording
The Pentatonic, sinfonietta for orchestra by Heinrich Schweizer
Length: 11 Minutes 7 Secs.
Chinese Youth, for children's chorus (after Sri Chinmoy) by Heinrich Schweizer
Yang Hong Nian
Length: 1 Minutes 26 Secs.
World-Harmony-Run, for children's chorus (after Sri Chinmoy) by Heinrich Schweizer
Yang Hong Nian
Length: 1 Minutes 2 Secs.
Flower Meadow, for oboe, English horn & string orchestra by Heinrich Schweizer
Length: 2 Minutes 26 Secs.
String Quartet No. 2 by Heinrich Schweizer
Length: 15 Minutes 28 Secs.
Three Movements for harp & woodwind quintet by Heinrich Schweizer
Deborah Hofmann (Harp)
New York Woodwind Quintet
Length: 5 Minutes 47 Secs.
Four Songs for voice & piano by Heinrich Schweizer
Michiko Tsuda (Piano),
Sarah Maeder ()
Length: 3 Minutes 58 Secs.
African Journey, for xylophone by Heinrich Schweizer
Horst Hofmann (Xylophone)
Length: 1 Minutes 43 Secs.
West African Drums by Heinrich Schweizer
Length: 1 Minutes 41 Secs.
Homage to William Booth by Heinrich Schweizer
Length: 1 Minutes 37 Secs.
Metamorphosis, for brass ensemble & organ by Heinrich Schweizer
Marsha Chow (Organ)
Length: 3 Minutes 7 Secs.
Concertino for oboe & orchestra by Heinrich Schweizer
Peter Cooper (Oboe)
Length: 12 Minutes 8 Secs.
Hadlaub, symphonic sketches for orchestra by Heinrich Schweizer
Length: 6 Minutes 21 Secs.
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