Klenau: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 5 (Triptikon); Paolo und Francesca

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COMPOSERS: Klenau
LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 5 (Triptikon); Paolo und Francesca
PERFORMER: Odense SO/Jan Wagner
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224134
Danish-born composer Paul von Klenau (1883-1946) spent much of his professional career in Germany and Austria studying composition with Bruch and Max von Schillings and later occupying the post of choral conductor at the Wiener Konzerthausgesellschaft, where he enthusiastically promoted the music of Schoenberg and Delius. During the Thirties, Klenau managed to provoke a modicum of controversy when he adopted a modified 12-note technique in a sequence of operas which were premiered in Nazi Germany. Yet the composer avoided direct censure from the authorities by disclaiming any stylistic liaison with the Second Viennese School and proclaiming his strong loyalty to the Hitler regime.

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Although 12-note elements can be perceived in the 1939 Fifth Symphony, they are largely camouflaged by Klenau’s late-Romantic style, which owes much to Wagner and even alludes to Beethoven in a rather banal passage in the Finale. In the First Symphony, scored rather extravagantly for a large orchestra that includes eight horns, four tubas and organ, the model is Bruckner and while there are some effective moments here and there, the melodic material is insufficiently distinctive to sustain one’s interest over a long period of time. Far better, to my mind, is the symphonic fantasy Paolo und Francesca, which demonstrates an imaginative conception of orchestral sonorities and receives the most convincing performance on the disc. Erik Levi