Overture to Esther, Op.8 Lamond
Symphony in A, Op.3
Ouvertüre Aus Dem Schottischen Hochlande, Op.4
Eine Liebe im Schottischen Hochlande Sword Dance
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Recorded September 2003 in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh
CD No: HYPERION CDA67387 Duration: 5951 Reviewed: April 2004
Orchestral Music by Eugen dAlbert and Frederic Lamond (Hyperion)
Reviewed by Colin Anderson
Both these composers were born in Glasgow and share more or less contemporary dates. Both were concert pianists. Both studied with Liszt. Eugen dAlbert (1864-1932), of Anglo-French parents, adopted Germany as his country, and Frederic Lamond (1868-1948) was resident in Berlin between 1904 until the start of the Second War (he was anti-Nazi). dAlbert died in Riga, while Lamond returned to his homeland; he died in Stirling. They knew each other, and enjoyed an amiable friendship it seems. In supplementing their concert-pianist careers, both men were steady composers; Lamond wrote a symphony, the one on this CD, and chamber music, while dAlbert notched up no less than 20 operas.
Stylistically, on the evidence of the pieces recorded here, both men were composers after their time; its a case of sticking very closely to (German) tradition. Think Brahms! Indeed, dAlbert played both of Brahmss concertos with Brahms conducting.
The expansive overture to Esther (not one of dAlberts operas, but a concert work) takes a couple of listens to get under its skin; it would be easy to dismiss it. Yet, it has a theatrical charge and a character that one warms to, with some pleasing, and passing, attractiveness and deft touches.
Lamonds compact 4-movement symphony seems to date from around 1885 and, after revision, was published in 1893. One could think it a little earnest, but the delightful second subject of the first movement, with a suggestion of fairgrounds, introduces an unexpected lilt. In a nutshell, if you respond to the music of Berwald and Bruch (I do), then youll be positive about Lamonds unpretentious work that scampers by in the scherzo and warmly modulates in the slow movement. The finale, like so many last movements, struggles to match what has gone before.
Lamonds overture adds in a bit of local colour its based on Sir Walter Scotts novel Quentin Durward and is somewhat sectional (and also a bit over-scored in the percussion department), while the Sword Dance is from Lamonds (only?) opera. It also boasts too much percussion, but it has indigenous snap and a lively countenance.
So, no masterpieces, nothing even thats great but its all quite likeable stuff. The dAlbert seems to grow with each playing, and the symphony certainly has its charms. These very well prepared, sympathetic performances are excellently recorded (albeit a little edgy in the loudest passages), and all seem to be premiere recordings. These really are the only versions youll ever need; if the package appeals, go for it!