Notes and Editorial Reviews
CPO begins yet another new and exciting series dedicated to a little-known but worthy composer. German/Dutch composer Julius Röntgen (1855-1935) wrote a huge quantity of music (more than 800 pieces), including more than 20 symphonies and dozens of other orchestral works, most have which have been moldering in an archive in Holland since his death. Why he's been so thoroughly neglected in his own country remains a mystery. He began his career as a graduate of the "Leipzig school" whose model was Mendelssohn; he was a close friend of Grieg and finished his career as an admirer of George Gershwin (one of his children lived in America). His music reveals itself to be the work of a polished craftsman and consummate professional of
the first order, and every note bespeaks a genuine joy in the art of composition.
The Third Symphony shows how it was still possible, even in the first decade of the 20th century, to write conservative music in traditional forms that still sounds fresh and has real expressive depth. Röntgen's scoring, here and in the coupling, is notably bright and open, the result of his high mean sonority and brilliant feeling for woodwind timbres. There's not a note wasted, and while the shape of the piece and its harmonic language may be familiar, you will find nothing quite like it in any previous music. In particular, the andante second movement and finale show Röntgen's great originality in that rarest of qualities: the ability to write memorable tunes. This, in the final analysis, is the secret of Röntgen's success, and it whets the appetite for further releases in what hopefully will be a long-running series.
The suite Aus Jotunheim reflects the composer's love of Norwegian folk music, and indeed Grieg might come to mind when listening, albeit with more vividly colored orchestration (harp, glockenspiel) than Röntgen's colleague usually managed (at least away from the complete Peer Gynt). Here is music that is extremely beautiful, melodically distinguished, and indelibly vivid. You simply can't listen to it and not enjoy it, and the same certainly holds true of these well-recorded performances. They aren't quite the last word in rhythmic discipline (the opening note of the symphony's finale isn't quite together), but David Porcelijn wisely understands that it's better to tolerate a few minor imperfections in ensemble in favor of keeping the music's energy level high and its textures bright and clear. Collectors of worthwhile musical novelties are going to love this.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 3 in C minor by Julius Röntgen
Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1910; Netherlands
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