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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Symphony No. 3 (In memoriam); Concertino for Flute and Orchestra
PERFORMER: Sharon Bezaly (flute); Norrköping SO/ Thomas Sanderling
Although Paul Kletzki is now remembered solely as a conductor, composing was an important and successful part of his life. He stopped writing only in 1942, silenced by the effects of Nazi persecution after members of his close family had ended their lives in Auschwitz. The Symphony dates from 1939, and it’s a turbulent work – the first movement is strongly propelled from the outset, and there is hardly any let-up in the violence. The harmonic style verges on the atonal, though there’s a strong backbone of tonality: it reminds me of the music of Artur Schnabel, another composer better known as an executant, though it’s much more confidently and colourfully scored. In the Symphony’s slow movement, Kletzki achieves a transparency in the lyrical wind solos which alternate with much denser polyphony in the strings, underlaid with brass chords. The performance has a sure touch, with well-balanced textures and a natural flow, though some of the cruel fugal writing catches the strings out. The Concertino is a more light-hearted affair with a wit and rhythmic bounce that you might associate with Hindemith. Sharon Bezaly is balanced too prominently for my taste, but invests the solo part with authority. Still not easy music, but, like the Symphony, it demands attention: this is the real thing. Martin Cotton