Not for me, but maybe for you
S. Hansen | Palo Alto,CA | 02/01/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'll say upfront that this review is strictly a reflection of my musical tastes and not really a reflection of the composer or performance per se. Technically, the performance and recording are quite good. However, if, like me, you are strictly a fan of "classic" Romantic music (i.e. Schubert, Schumann, Mendelsohn, Brahms, Spohr, etc.),this recording is probably not for you. If, on the other hand you are a fan of the "late" Romance style (R. Strauss, Wagner, Mahler, etc.), you will probably like this just fine."
A Schumannesque symphony mated to a Dvorakian serenade
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 03/07/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Lovers of the symphonies of Robert Schumann should adore the Symphony No. 2 of Felix Draeseke (1835-1913), a German composer of late romantic vintage that wrote in a high romantic style similar to that of Schumann and Mendelssohn even though he was apparently most influenced by Wagner -- whom he called the greatest genius of Western music -- and Liszt.
Like his other symphonies, this one begins with sharp timpani and brass attacks that will remind you of Beethoven, another composer whose influence is readily apparent. But you spend hardly any time with the Symphony 2 before the connection to the symphonies of Schummann -- in particular Schumann's Symphony No. 2 -- becomes most apparent. The two are very similarly orchestrated and there are thematic similarities, especially in the first movement.
The five movement Serenade in D Op. 49 that accompanies the symphony has more of a Dvorakian mood, especially in the second and third movements, the first of which includes a cello obbligato. The seremade has more interesting construction than the symphony, with an allegro first movement followed by a true slow movement, an andante, allegretto and closing prestissimo leggiero. Like the symphony, it remains steadfastly in the mid-romantic vein of 19th century music. While both pieces offer similar high spirits, I think this is a better piece of music than the symphony.
Like they have on the other Draeskse symphony recordings in the CPO series, conductor Jorg-Peter Weigle and the Hannover German Radio Philharmoic are completely committed to this music. They play the symphony in full-throated style leaving any score subtleties on the recording studio floor. Draeseke did not compose a genuine slow movement in the symphony, nor did he let up on the gas very often. The band and conductor are completely in tune with this mostly high speed chase. The collaborators are equally sensitive to the shifting moods and subtleties of the serenade, which offers greater variation in emotional mood.
CPO's engineering and sound on these late 1990s recordings is outstanding with rich and a richly detailed orchestral palette and sound that is three-dimensional and certainly up to the standards of the pre-super audio era. Like usual, CPO loads up the recording with extensive notes about the composer, the works, the history of their period and details about the performers. Anyone looking for a new romantic symphony or serenade will not be disappointed with this package."
We need more Draeseke
Keon Garraway | Brooklyn, NY | 01/04/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have the first 3 symphonies of Draeseke. I originally bought his 3rd Symphony first, then his 1st symphony coupled with his Piano Concerto, then I got his 2nd symphony for Christmas 2009.
Additionally I have two chamber works by him. I have his Stelzner String Quintet in A major and his Piano Quintet in B flat major.
I will say that only after being immersed in the style of this composer that I could have seen him as a great composer in his own right.
It is easy to try to reference his symphonies to works that went before i.e Schumann and Mendelssohn, and works present i.e Wagner and Liszt, but after careful consideration, Draeseke is original as it gets. . What does him a disservice is that he is not popular hence his symphonic style and musical predilections are not easily understood. I believe with constant performances they will achieve the status that they are worthy of.
Draeseke's style is one caution, meticulousness, and superb craftsmanship. Of his 4 symphonies (he destroyed an early one), none are experimental. (Experimental symphonies are symphonies by composers who are new to the form but whose skills have not peaked. As the composer composes more symphonies his style becomes perfected. We find this in the early symphonies of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Dvorak and Bruckner). The only composer I know who has not composed experimental symphonies is Brahms. But after listening to the works of Draeseke, I will say that Draeseke is one of them. His symphonic output came after many years of composing Overtures, choruses, tone poems, operas and incidental music. His skills were well honed before his official symphonic attempts.
All of Draeseke's symphonies stand on their own, and are fully matured works. There is no hastiness. The themes are well developed, the melodies are lucid and not overly sweet (this might be the only disadvantage for those hardcore romantic fans), the structure is compact and the lengths are amiable.
His second symphony is beautiful but not on first appearance. The main theme announced by the trumpets do not seem impressive on first hearing, but the way Draeseke develops it by inculcating it with a fugue is absolutely perfect. He then builds it dramatically with fiery end.(not fiery in terms of Brahms)
The second movement is somewhat reminiscent of the 2nd movement of Schubert's 9th, but it is all Draeseke. It opens like a funeral march but it soon grows confidence and majesty. It's somber tone is totally shaken off. Midway the somberness returns with much inventiveness in a contrapuntal nature, then the end comes with a slow slouching return of a vivid funeral march.
The third movement is of a serenade quality
The last movement is a sterling example of Draeseke's skill in counterpoint. This last movement is scherzo like but rich in distinct musicality to distinguish it from the conventional scherzo that preceded it. It usurps all the moods that preceded it and puts the listener in a festive mood.