GMCD 7286 – Chamber Music and Songs by Hermann von Glenck
Nancy Ruffer – Flute, Levine Andrade – Viola, Jean Kelly – Harp
Music Web Wednesday December 15 04
A gentle soul not pushing the envelope towards atonality but gaining momentum towards gentle dissonance as he moved into the 1930s …
Von Glenck was born in Zurich and studied with Karl Kempter. He attended the Hochschule in Berlin from 1900. In 1904, aged only 21, he conducted one of his orchestral works in Paris. He directed concerts throughout Germany and the pinnacle of that era was in 1908 when he flourished his baton over the Berlin Philharmonic. He spent three years as music direct of the Stuttgart Opera until illness forced his return to Switzerland for recuperation. After the Great War he moved to Bavaria where once again he conducted extensively and where his compositions gained admiration and a real following.
Robert Matthew-Walker provides an essay and whets our appetite for von Glenck’s magnum opus Sinfonia Carita Aeterna for solo soprano and orchestra in 1905. There is also a tone poem for orchestra Liebesklage und Trauerhymnus 1910, a violin concerto 1912, a piano concerto 1927 and, in 1951, a Symphonic Concerto for cello and orchestra.
The Serenade for flute, viola and harp is one of those idyllic-ecstatic essays in the warmly-bathed style of Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro and the Elegiac Trio and Nonet by Glenck’s close English contemporary, Arnold Bax.
Nachklange is a very beautiful song. I was not surprised to read that the composer kept returning to it to revise it. Louise Innes sounds under some strain. Nachts is a bass song where William Coleman sounds distant but gives a good impression of his songs – grave and mournful for the most part. Nebel breaks from tradition. It is very romantic but here a more expressionist feeling suffuses the piano line. This continues into the soprano cycle Vier Lieder. Nacht in particular has an impressive slow-swinging gravity.
The Variations Op. 17 are recorded here in the composer’s version for two pianos. The original is for full orchestra and dates from 1918. It was revised in 1930. The theme is guileless little march of Mozartian mien. Across five movements and almost half an hour the theme is put through a very inventive wringer. The shatter and splinter of Prokofiev can be heard in tr.14 and also in the finale. There is a calmly rocking Ruhig which radio producers for some nostalgic production should note for future reference. Immanuil and Rubio clearly enjoyed the challenge. I hope they get the opportunity to present this playfully inventive and sardonic music in live concert. They relish the sweep in the finale back to the unadorned simplicity of the theme which returning in reticence rather than triumph. Von Glenck was clearly not intent on crowd-pleasing display.
The recordings were made in three locations in London and Bristol but the sound is remarkably consistent and fine.
Full texts and translations are provided.
On this evidence von Glenck was a gentle soul not pushing the envelope towards atonality but gaining momentum towards gentle dissonance as he moved into the 1930s