Notes and Editorial Reviews
A symphony from 1880 lasting almost an hour by a student who died young—a work Mahler admired but regarded as "not quite hitting the mark"—is not an obvious candidate for the accolade (and expense) of issue on CD. Yet Hyperion were right to take it on. Hans Rott's Symphony is not just an Interesting Historical Document, with qualities and concerns that Mahler would refine and render so distinctive over the next 30 years: it is music whose own style and personality are strong enough to convince you that Rott's early death (in 1884, aged 26) was a genuine, regrettable loss. While there is no point in claiming that the Symphony is a flawless masterwork, Rott had that touch of genius that makes even miscalculation interesting.
As Paul Banks, the editor of the score, points out, the work's form is unusual in that the four movements grow progressively larger and more elaborate. The first, very differently from Brahmsian or Brucknerian precedent, is in some ways introductory, but it has a strong, expansive melody showing Rott's justified confidence in his ability to shape a substantial, harmonically welldirected design. The early stages of the second movement are less successful, but compensation comes with a change of direction and the appearance of a chorale idea. The scherzo has the folkish wit and touches of the grotesque that prefigure the Mahlerian Landler, and in the huge finale Rott's sense of proportion is the perfect foil to his expressive fervour. The texture is overloaded in places, but the thinking never sinks into banality, and the music is by no means so evocative of Brahms or Wagner as to suggest mere student pastiche.
The performance, by a student orchestra, is most impressive. All departments have their moments, although the brave, tireless first trumpet deserves special praise. The recorded sound is well judged to contain the many massive climaxes without loss of definition.
-- Gramophone [12/1989]
reviewing the original release of this title, Hyperion 66366
Works on This Recording
Symphony in E major by Hans Rott
Cincinnati Philharmonia Orchestra
Written: 1878; Vienna, Austria
Notes: ed Banks
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