I am grateful to Rob Cowan for putting me on to this release. There is a distinctive musical voice here. If you’d like to know more about Alexander Veprik, his Wiki page is linked to below. But while Dabringhaus and Wiki agree that Veprik died in 1958, the former states his birth-year as being 1889 whereas Wiki (and others) have 1899
Musically, the opening work on the disc, Dances and Songs of the Ghetto, is very revealing. This atmospheric-suggestive music reveals in its lyrical parts a soulful, time-passing, quality, whereas the upbeat moments are exhilarating, for which I am inclined to suggest that if Khachaturian’s ballet music appeals, or similarly the Skalkottas of his Greek Dances, then you will welcome Veprik’s output with open ears.
And so it continues. The Two Symphonic Songs (of Mourning; of Joy) also show a composer who invests contrasting emotions in his writing, the first of them lamenting and poignant, with outpourings of grief, whereas its successor peals with knees-up pleasure, although it’s not long before bittersweet reminiscences interrupt the party, which is though back in full-swing by the end, orchestral fireworks to the fore.
The Five Little Pieces are gems of short-form characterisation, alternating fast and slow with a stirring march as centre-piece, which dovetails nicely into the succeeding Allegro, which highlights excellent wind solos – bassoon, oboe, horn, trumpet, clarinet, the latter cueing an ethereal Lento.
Next comes Pastorale, a romantic reverie, with Delian birdsong, if just slightly apprehensive at times, dark clouds – not for the first time did I find something of a correspondence with Shostakovich – and, finally, Two Poems, a substantial opus, the pair together lasting close on half-an-hour, music that sustains its length through generous expression and well-timed distinctions of ideas, moods and insignias, something of a page-turner as to what happens next.
What are I believe first recordings enjoy the services of an in-form BBCNOW and the persuasive conducting of Christoph-Mathias Mueller, very well recorded, Veprik’s primary colours vividly captured. Dabringhaus und Grimm MDG 901 2133-6 [SACD].