Gerhard: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 3 (Collages)

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LABELS: Auvidis Valois
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 3 (Collages)
PERFORMER: Tenerife SO/Víctor Pablo Pérez
Roberto Gerhard spent thirty years in Britain until his death in 1970, but is rather neglected here these days. It has been left to the French company Auvidis, who take an interest in things Catalan (Gerhard was born, and lived nearly fifty years on and off, in Catalonia), to play midwife to the birth on CD of these symphonies.


Two enduring influences on Gerhard’s music were his teachers, Pedrell and Schoenberg. Pedrell also taught Granados and Falla and is partly credited with the high profile of folk elements in Spanish music of the first decades of the century, as indeed in Gerhard’s Don Quixote and the opera The Duenna. Spanish dances play a perceptible but shadowy role in the Symphony No. 1, whose fierce drive and compelling, approachable chromaticism owe more to Gerhard’s other more illustrious teacher. Symphony No. 3, subtitled ‘Collages’, is a series of short movements that make for a powerful if less unified whole.


Neither work was terribly fashionable when first performed in the seriously serial Fifties and Sixties, but now a certain amount of dust has settled, what a pleasure it is to enjoy these pieces through the persuasive advocacy of the Tenerife SO. Gerhardcentenary falls next year: programme planners take note. Christopher Wood