Alexander Rumpf

Albert Dietrich: Symphony; Violin Concerto

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Those looking for German composer Albert Dietrich in the musical reference books will find him listed first as the friend of Schumann, Brahms, and Joachim, who memorably contributed a movement to the "F.A.E." Sonata. Those looking for Dietrich on the musical map of nineteenth century Germany will find him several degrees below Brahms, Schumann, and Mendelssohn, a bit to the east of Bruch and Rheinberger and far to the west of Liszt and Wagner. In the three works receiving their world-premiere recordings here from Oldenburgisches Staatsorchester under the direction of Alexander Rumpf -- the Symphony, Op. 20; the Violin Concerto, Op. 30; and the Introduction & Romance for horn and orchestra, Op. 27 -- Dietrich speaks the language of early Romantic tonality with fluency and command. His themes are well-cast, his developments well-argued, and his climaxes honestly achieved. If his themes' shapes seem strangely familiar, his developments' rhetoric oddly old-fashioned, and his climaxes' ecstasy decidedly self-satisfied, it could be that more than a century of acquaintance with the music of Brahms, Schumann, and Mendelssohn has fatally compromised our ability to hear Dietrich's individual voice. Or it could be that Dietrich had too little of an individual voice to be heard in any context so that his symphony's drama, his Violin Concerto's lyricism, and his Introduction & Romance's sensitivity appear inconsequential next to the greater achievements of Brahms, Schumann, and Mendelssohn. The orchestral performances here are consistently excellent with spirited playing from the otherwise completely unknown Oldenburgisches Staatsorchester under the committed conducting of Rumpf. Of the soloists, violinst Elisabeth Kufferath, with her steady tone and expressive phrasing, is more convincing than hornist Marie-Luise Neunecker with her sometimes unsteady phrasing. CPO's digital sound is clear and colorful enough, but a bit dim. In the end, those dedicated fans of German Romanticism looking for something they haven't heard before will be interested to hear these world premieres, and those listeners less concerned with the highways and byways of nineteenth century orchestral music may decide to pass them by.

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