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Swiss Chamber Orchestra Plays Bartok, Ringger, Rautavaara & Schubert

Swiss Chamber Orch / Bartok / Siffert
Release Date: 04/12/2011 
Label:  Gall (Formerly Gallo)   Catalog #: 1319   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Rolf Urs RinggerEinojuhani RautavaaraFranz SchubertBéla Bartók
Performer:  Hugo BollschweilerBarbara GasserDelphine GrangesFabienne Leresche,   ... 
Conductor:  Emmanuel Siffert
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHUBERT Symphony No. 5. BARTÓK Divertimento. RINGGER Love Is in the Air & Emmanuel Siffert, cond; Hugo Bollschweiler (va); Swiss Ch O GALLO CD-1319 (77:39)

& RAUTAVAARA Adagio Celeste

The Swiss Chamber Orchestra, a Read more young ensemble approximately 30 strong, is directed by Emmanuel Siffert, and offers a program that sports a somewhat unlikely look. There’s Schubert’s Fifth Symphony and Béla Bartók’s Divertimento for strings, but also Rolf Urs Ringger’s Love is in the Air and Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Adagio Celeste for strings. Certainly the promotion of new music is vitally important, but one worries for sales given the presence of the Schubert in particular. Perhaps one should, rather, simply see the disc as a calling card for the orchestra, demonstrating its custodianship of 19th-century repertoire as well as its exploration of the new.

In any case, one should also, of course, judge by executant excellence. In the Bartók Divertimento one finds the orchestra fluent and attractive. The string weight is apposite and the direction of the music-making logical. What I do find lacking, however, is the kind of tart zest that Lukas Foss brought to bear with the Zimbler Sinfonietta in his LP recording, which was magically coupled on Concert Hall with Dimitri Mitropoulos’s Schoenberg Serenade. The crisper, brighter, and more assertive, indeed idiomatic, self-confidence of the Foss/Zimbler isn’t really replicated here. And in a world where classic recordings such as Doráti and the BBC and Solti and the Chicago hold sway, it’s difficult to securely “place” this performance. Perhaps a better fit are the recordings by Hugh Wolff and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Iona Brown directing the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, though again both these recordings (on Warner Apex and Chandos, respectively) are at the top of their respective trees.

Ringger was born in Zurich in 1935, and Love is in the Air is dedicated to the violist who performs it here, Hugo Bollschweiler, and the orchestra and conductor jointly. Banish thoughts of the pop song of the same name sung by John Paul Jones, for this is a different thing altogether. It has meditative and urgent moments alike, with plenty of writing for the percussion and even a march motif. It’s an approachable piece of music, strong on texture and atmosphere with perhaps rather too much tremolando writing for the protagonist, but a good lonesome soliloquy for the viola. The notes cite The Lark Ascending in passing as a point of reference, but if we’re to note a British composer, it’s surely more Britten than Vaughan Williams, and then not very much so.

Rautavaara’s Adagio Celeste was written in 1997 but revised three years later and premiered in 2002. It’s inspired by a poem by the Finnish writer Lassi Nummi and has to do with “an angel of dual personalities.” In this brief seven-minute work one can certainly appreciate the mystical, meditative “good angel,” but of the bad there’s less sign, at least to me. The reading of Schubert’s symphony isn’t going to displace any of the disc favorites set down over the years, but does receive an alert and generally sympathetic performance, plangent where necessary.

The recorded sound is unproblematic, and the notes are trilingual.

FANFARE: Jonathan Woolf
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Works on This Recording

Love is in the Air, for viola & orchestra by Rolf Urs Ringger
Performer:  Hugo Bollschweiler (Viola)
Conductor:  Emmanuel Siffert
Period: Contemporary 
Length: 16 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Adagio Celeste by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Emmanuel Siffert
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Finland 
Length: 7 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Symphony no 5 in B flat major, D 485 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Emmanuel Siffert
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 25 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Divertimento for String Orchestra, Sz 113 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Barbara Gasser (Cello), Delphine Granges (Violin), Fabienne Leresche (Violin),
Katarzyna Losiewicz (Viola)
Conductor:  Emmanuel Siffert
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; Budapest, Hungary 
Length: 27 Minutes 8 Secs. 

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