Natalie Clein, whose previous recording of the music of Ernest Bloch was described as ‘inspired’ by The Sunday Times, turns to his three suites for solo cello as part of a recital of works written in the aftermath of the Second World War. The sombre voice of the cello seems especially apposite in music of such deep seriousness, Ligeti’s short sonata providing an energetic and life-affirming finale.
Schelomo receives its mead of barbarous splendour at the hands of Nelsova and Abravanel. The recording is a shade too warm but Nelsova (who recorded far too little) who studied the piece with the composer demonstrates her familiarity and sympathy with the piece. This is essential as Schelomo is one of those works that can easily seem nondescript if the artists involved are unengaged. In that sense it is rather like the Bax cello concerto (still awaiting its ideal exponent on disc). This is Nelsova's second, recording of the work. The feverish grip of the music is strongly asserted.
This Swiss Cascavelle disc most adroitly presents the world premiere recording of the orchestral poem Helvetia alongside two less obscure works for viola and orchestra. A highly attractive release, well designed and documented. Enthusiasts of Bloch, the viola and the mountain heights must not miss this.
Edgar Moreau salutes his family heritage and highlights landmarks in his artistic development with Transmission – music by Bloch, Korngold, Bruch and Ravel, recorded with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and its chief conductor Michael Sanderling. Moreau’s mother is of Polish-Jewish extraction and all five works on the album have a connection with Jewish culture. The largest work on the programme is Bloch’s Schelomo, which Moreau describes as “a majestic meeting of concerto and symphony, rich and colourful in its orchestration and full of contrasts”.
Swiss-American composer Ernest Bloch is best known for his works on Jewish themes and subjects – Baal Shem, Schelomo, the Israel Symphony – but the majority of his works are abstract, if heavily accented music written in the standard late nineteenth century central European harmonies and forms. This 2007 Hyperion disc features two large-scale chamber works by Bloch, his three-movement piano quintets from 1923 and 1957, plus three shorter pieces for string quartet alone: Night and Paysages (Landscapes) both from 1923 and Two Pieces from 1938 and 1950.
There's a little joke behind the innocuous name of Ernest Bloch's Symphony in E-flat. It is, in truth, one of his most harmonically acerbic works, very close to the tortured contrapuntal idiom of another famous Swiss composer: Honegger. The piece only really achieves its home key in the quiet, final bars, but along the way sparks fly in all directions, and no matter how dissonant the idiom the argument is very easy to follow, and melodies and motives have distinctive, easily recognizable shapes.