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Oleg Caetani and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra continue their advocacy of the orchestral music of Alexandre Tansman with this third volume of symphonies. International Record Review wrote of Volume 1, ‘After
hearing this spectacularly engineered new SA-CD, I really do believe that Alexandre Tansman’s time has come… there’s no need to hesitate over Oleg Caetani’s performances’, while Fanfare wrote of Volume 2, ‘Oleg Caetani and his down-under musicians give this hair-raisingly impetuous but always disciplined music the strongest possible advocacy… This CD is the best possible introduction to a composer who deserves far wider exposure’. The first two volumes were both awarded the prestigious Diapason d’or in France. Oleg Caetani, who recently extended his contract with the Orchestra, which now takes him through till the end of 2010, has said, ‘I am proud to
continue in my role as the MSO’s Chief Conductor. Working with this orchestra over the last few years has been one of the most important turning points in my musical life’.
Tansman was like a musical chameleon. He firmly believed that ‘everyone is exposed to influences. What matters is whether one seeks them or simply absorbs them. It is essential to digest them and to find one’s own path’. The results are radical and experimental compositions, full of eclectic musical touches of the styles that inspired him.
The conductor states the theme of this third volume to be ‘On the Symphonic Edge’ due to the unorthodox ways in which Tansman treats these three early and late symphonic works. The Second Symphony, which here receives its
premiere recording, was composed in 1926 and shows clear influences of Stravinsky in the earlier movements but becomes something of a musical kaleidoscope in which we may see reflections of the moods and colours of Chopin’s ‘Raindrop’ Prelude, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘The Flight of
the Bumblebee’! Tansman’s third venture into the symphonic form, here also receiving its premiere recording, is of an unusual kind as it includes a piano quartet, the result of the conditions of the original commission by the Queen of Belgium. This Symphonie concertante (formally Tansman’s Third Symphony) features an even richer array of musical allusions within the overarching framework of baroque concerto grosso and Bach’s style of rhythmic ostinati and fugal expositions, along with playful Stravinskian elements. The second movement, Tempo americano, startles with its unmistakable echoes of George Gershwin, whom Tansman considered the ‘greatest American
composer’ and invited to Paris in 1931. As Tansman recalled, ‘While Gershwin was composing An American in Paris, he worked with me on the orchestration of this piece. He had a real affinity for orchestration… and helped me the most to become familiar with [jazz]’. The disc is completed with the Quatre Mouvements of 1967 – 68. Here again Tansman’s eclecticism comes through, this time including explorations of non-tonal music.
Contents and Reviews
Symphonies, Volume 3
Symphony in A minor [No. 2] / Symphonie
concertante (Symphony No 3) / Quatre
Mouvements pour orchestre
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