A new review from critic Graham Rickson this week at The Arts Desk is available here.
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“An Austrian Jew who eventually settled in Edinburgh and achieved fame as an academic, Gál’s early renown came through composition. His final symphony was completed in 1974 but – intensely personal, elegiac, nostalgic music, and completely out of step with the times – it could have been written 80 years before. Gál saw himself as part of the Austro-German tradition, and his last symphony achieves a Haydnesque clarity and concision. It’s sparely scored for a classical orchestra, and you’re reminded of Richard Strauss’s similarly anachronistic final works…”
“The restraint of the Gál is intelligently coupled with Schumann’s Symphony No 2. There are no reservations at all about the playing of the Orchestra of the Swan under Kenneth Woods. Good chamber orchestras can make Schumann sound lighter, fresher, leaner – there’s plenty of definition and lightness here. Woods manages to make the first movement’s obsessive triple time rhythm sound like music instead of a stuck record, and the Scherzo has the requisite bounce. There’s plenty of stoic melancholy in the Adagio, but not enough to derail the symphony’s emotional trajectory. Excellent, in other words.”