Călin Humă, born 1965 in Romania, has lived in the UK (Hampshire to be precise) for the last couple of decades. On the evidence of the two ambitious works recorded here Humă is a romantic composer with the ability to communicate generously with listeners and to paint pictures for them.
The opening of Symphony-Concerto (for piano and orchestra, 2018) could come from the pen of Rachmaninov, although the harmony becomes knottier later, and later still you may find references stray to Khachaturian in Spartacus mode. Attractive though the music is, it can at times tread water, but at its best, over three movements and thirty or so minutes, there is no doubting Humă can touch the heart even if he is too often found stuck in the slow lane. The pianist is the excellent Sergiu Tuhuțiu and Christopher Petrie conducts the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
Petrie and BBCNOW go on to perform Humă’s slightly longer First Symphony (2015, his Second such work was premiered last year) entitled ‘Carpatica’. The first two movements are both marked Largo, rather misleading for the opening one, which has greater variety than might be suggested, and continues Humă’s gift for melody and suggestion – rather filmic and with an Eastern flavour – if once again leaning to the repetitive. The second Largo is fruitful in its expression and the Finale – Allegro – marries militaristic rhythms, folksiness (swinging delightfully, the pizzicatos remind of Britten’s Simple Symphony) and dark lyricism; the work ends jauntily.
Guild’s presentation includes an extensive essay by Robert Matthew-Walker and the dedicated performances, recorded at Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff in November 2018, enjoy Andrew Keener’s production values and Simon Smith’s engineering. Guild GMCD7824.