Catherine Rückwardt / Philharmonisches Orcester des Staatstheaters Mainz

Hans Rott: Sinfonie Nr. 1 E-Dur

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In his short life of 25 years, Hans Rott composed a smattering of works that are virtually forgotten, except for his Symphony No. 1 in E major (1878-80), which, despite his repeated attempts, he never heard performed. Yet after its belated premiere in 1989, it became apparent that Rott's work was a forerunner of the symphonies of Gustav Mahler, both in its size and in particular ideas that seem uncannily influential. (Indeed, Rott's dynamic third movement seems like a prototype for several scherzos in Mahler's symphonies.) Today, the perceived similarities to Mahler, and perhaps more importantly, the debt Rott owed to Anton Bruckner and Richard Wagner, make it difficult to find an individual voice in the mix. Instead, the Symphony No. 1 has become a musical curiosity that is regarded as a bit of a puzzle, rather than as an original effort by an unstable and struggling composer who never realized his full potential. This live recording by Catherine Rückwardt and the Philharmonisches Orchester des Staatstheaters Mainz does justice to the score, and the impassioned playing goes a long way toward making the symphony stand on its own merits. Indeed, Rückwardt's assured conducting and the committed performance by the orchestra give Rott's music the coherence it needs to be understood as a competent work that has many fine moments, despite a few awkward passages and heavy-handed orchestration. Still, listen to track 3 to get a feeling for Rott's most original -- and seemingly prophetic -- music.

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