|Continental Britons: Music by Wellesz, Spinner, Goldschmidt, Gellhorn, Tauský, Gál, Seiber, Reizenstein & Rankl.|
Hans Gál - Robert Schumann
Orchestra of the Swan/Kenneth Woods
Gál: Symphony No.1 (D)
Schumann: Symphony No.1
"Time was there were no Gál symphonies in the catalogue (indeed, precious little of his music at all), yet with this disc we now have not just two recordings of the First (1927) but the first integral cycle of the four. All credit to Avie for issuing these (including the rival accounts of Nos 1 and 2 conducted by Thomas Zehetmair). The First Symphony is a vibrantly Classical (not neo-classical) score written by a young master in the traditional medium also espoused by Franz Schmidt, whose Third Symphony pipped Gál’s First in the Austrian section of the Columbia Gramophone Company’s Schubert Centenary Competition.
The four movements follow a conventional pattern with the ‘Burleske’ scherzo placed second. Woods and the Orchestra of the Swan have Gál’s style so completely under their hands now that they sound as if they had been playing this music all their lives. Zehetmair and the Northern Sinfonia set a high benchmark in their pioneering account and it remains a fine account, but the newcomer surpasses it. Compare just the opening bars, where Woods and the Swan players achieve a smoothness of flow to Gál’s opening that leaves Zehetmair’s sounding a tad lacking, or the opening Moderato’s close with its unlikely foreshadowing of Shostakovich. This account is a joy to hear from start to exuberant finish, perfectly paced and superbly played.
The coupling of Schumann’s Spring Symphony is a delight, too. There is no obvious connection between the two works but the Orchestra of the Swan play it as if the pairing were the most natural in the world, giving Zinman and the Tonhalle a real run for their money. Avie’s sound is splendidly balanced, warm and clear. Very strongly recommended. "
Gramophone, June 2014