The 20th Century Concerto Grosso

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COMPOSERS: Schulhoff; Krenek; D’Indy
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: The 20th Century Concerto Grosso
WORKS: Schulhoff: Concerto doppio, WV 89; Krenek; Concertino, Op. 27; D’Indy: Concert, Op. 89
PERFORMER: Maria Prinz (piano), Karl-Heinz Schutz (flute), Christoph Koncz (violin), Robert Nagy (cello); Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Sir Neville Marriner


The early 20th-century revival of the concerto grosso, or something resembling it, was one of the prime tokens of the advance of ‘Back to Bach’ neo-classicism between the wars. But the definition of the genre was loose and attracted some surprising exponents. None more surprising than the elderly Vincent d’Indy, who at the age of 75 produced his amiable Concert for piano, flute, cello and strings in 1926. For him, harking back to Rameau and the French Baroque was a statement of French independence from (and cultural superiority to) the aggressive German neighbour to the East. Probably the best-known work in this programme is Erwin Schulhoff’s dapper 1927 Concerto doppio (flute, piano, strings and two horns), redolent of the Jazz Age and Weimar-Era Germany.

The only actual premiere recording here is quite a rarity: Ernst Krenek’s 1924 Concertino (flute, violin, piano, strings). Between the Wars Krenek was something of a stylistic magpie, but his fascinating six-movement suite-like piece is no pastiche but interrogates the concerto grosso tradition from a contemporary Viennese standpoint.

Altogether this is an attractive disc: all the ‘ripieno’ soloists are excellent, Karl-Heinz Schütz’s flute and Robert Nagy’s cello calling for special mention. Marriner and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields provide accompaniments of the necessary brio and point.


Calum MacDonald