Originally published on April 23
Dora Pejačević (1885-1923). For the Symphony, I refer you to my review of the concert performance that preceded the recording sessions: http://www.colinscolumn.com/bbc-symphony-orchestra-sakari-oramo-conducts-dora-pejacevics-symphony-in-f-sharp-minor-vilde-frang-plays-beethovens-violin-concerto-live-relay-on-bbc-radio-3/.
Suffice to say that the ambitious, four-movement, F-sharp minor Symphony (1916-17/1920; Opus 41) holds the attention through the composer’s individual ideas and skilful handling of structure: sincere music that has allure as well as emotional outreach, certainly in this glowing performance: it’s patently obvious that Sakari Oramo believes in the work and leads a dedicated performance – the middle movements, respectively slow and eloquent, and then a Scherzo that dances and is percussively coloured, are the highlights, although the whole withstands and benefits from a few listens. That’s the beauty of having a stellar recording to return to; and there’s no doubting that with the Symphony’s energetic ending that a journey has been undertaken and that the homecoming is triumphant.
The G-minor, three-movement, Piano Concerto from 1913 (Opus 33) is fully Romantic and credits-rolling, attractively unpredictable while being unashamedly traditional and melodic (reminding at times of Grieg’s Concerto), if not perhaps all that memorable if yielding more on repetition thanks to the best efforts of the performers, not least Peter Donohoe who devours the solo part with brilliance and (slow movement) sensitivity.
If neither piece is the greatest music, both are well-worth a punt, especially in such committed performances that are captured in pristine and tangible sound (Brian Pidgeon, producer; Ralph Couzens, engineer) and fully annotated. Chandos CHSA 5299 [SACD] is released on April 29 and may well prove to be a revelation.