Israel Yinon

Eduard Erdmann: Symphony No. 4

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Who is this composer named Eduard Erdmann? We know of a pianist named Erdmann born in 1896 in Riga of German parents who was best known in his time as a specialist in the music of Bach and Schubert but not of a composer named Erdmann. Wait: it turns out that the composer Erdmann is also the pianist Erdmann, that like so many conductors and other musicians, Erdmann was also a part-time composer with 22 works to his credit in all genres, including four symphonies.

What kind of composer was Erdmann? A modernist in the earnest rather the ironic or the revolutionary mode, Erdmann wrote more or less tonal music of integrity, energy, intelligence, and deep feeling. Unfortunately, his music also seems to be instantly forgettable. In this 2005 disc featuring Erdmann's Monogramme, Ständchen, and Symphony No. 4, conductor Israel Yinon and the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt perform his music with strength, sincerity, and sensitivity -- and they still come up dry. Erdmann's themes are serious, his harmonies are rigorous, his rhythms are forceful, his colors are vivid, his forms are solid -- and none of it sticks in the memory. Imagine later Hindemith but without the depth and intensity and you have some idea what to expect. While avid fans of twentieth century German music may want to hear this disc to put the contemporary works of Henze and Hartmann in context, they'll have to admit that Erdmann's works aren't in the same league. CPO's sound is crisp, clean, and cool.

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