Johann Nepomuk David: Symphonies Nos. 1, 6

Johannes Wildner / ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra

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Johann Nepomuk David: Symphonies Nos. 1, 6 Review

by Blair Sanderson

Johann Nepomuk David was an Austrian composer of the mid-20th century who fell into undeserved obscurity, even though he was quite prolific and talented, and his modally based music is quite approachable. This CPO release of the Symphony No. 1 in A minor, Op. 18 (1937), and the Symphony No. 6, Op. 46 (1954), is a an attempt to bring some of David's neglected music to light, with a modest prospect of starting a revival. Somewhat evocative of late Romanticism in its color, David's Symphony No. 1 is a lively piece that is brilliantly orchestrated, and even though the writing is most notable for its elaborate and continuous counterpoint, it flows quite naturally with charming melodic contours and never seems like a dry academic exercise. Somewhat more complex in its moods and a bit more rugged in its harmony, the Symphony No. 6 is a vigorous essay that again shows David's gift for polyphony, and its energy and forward momentum make it compelling, despite its fairly abstract quality. Johannes Wildner and the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien give both works committed performances, playing with clear separation of parts to bring out music's dimensions and textures, and emphasizing the rhythmic impulse that gives these symphonies their vitality. This CD is the first installment of CPO's project to record all eight of David's symphonies, and it is an auspicious start, even though it will probably attract little notice outside Germany and Austria.

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