Bloch: Symphony in E flat major

Dalia Atlas / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

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Bloch: Symphony in E flat major Review

by Blair Sanderson

Best known for his popular rhapsody Schelomo, Ernest Bloch has been largely overlooked by modern conductors, and comparatively few of his orchestral works appear in concerts or recordings. This CD by Dalia Atlas and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra addresses this lack and should rally listeners to Bloch's cause because the music presented here is bold, heroic, and colorful in vibrant scores audiences will readily appreciate. The Symphony in E flat major is the most important selection, filled with rousing themes and dramatic orchestration that are at times reminiscent of the post-Romantic style of Mahler and Strauss, even though it was composed as late as 1955. Even more in this retrospective vein is the short In Memoriam, which was written in 1952, yet its noble theme hearkens back to the turn of the century in its unabashed optimism and comforting major tonality. Though the two interludes from Macbeth, Bloch's only opera, and the Three Jewish Poems were earlier works, their music is in some passages more daring and vivid, and they deserve more performances because of their instant appeal. Atlas and her musicians are fully committed in these performances, which were originally released on ASV. The digital sound is clear and quite warm, though its dimensions are fairly shallow.

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