A new review for the Orchestra of the Swan’s recording of Hans Gal’s Fourth Symphony and Schumann’s Second from fellow Wisconsin native/cheesehead James R. Oestreich, in the June 3rd edition of the New York Times. Read the whole thing here. A short sample follows
Gál, revered during his lifetime as a 20th-century composer, teacher and writer (a wonderful biography of Brahms, among many other works), is no mere curiosity. But a curiosity he surely is, a throwback who wrote old-fashioned symphonies (this Fourth in 1974) and concertos of consummate craft in a mostly consonant, mellifluous style seemingly little touched by the great tragedies of the 20th century or his personal troubles.
Born near Vienna in 1890, he established a substantial career in Germany but was driven by the Nazis back to Austria and then to England, only to be interned there for a time. Several members of his family, similarly tormented, killed themselves. Gál died in 1987.
His Fourth Symphony, also called Sinfonia Concertante, gives prominent solos to flute, clarinet, violin and cello. The spirit is perhaps closest to Neo-Classicism, though, even deploying a smallish orchestra, Gál seems to be striving for some of the lushness of his beloved Romantics.
Mr. Woods and the orchestra do a fine job of revealing the qualities of this peculiar master. JAMES R. OESTREICH