Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 – Symphonies Nos 1 & 3; König Manfred; Triumphmarsch
Munich Radio Orchestra/Henry Raudales
CPO 555 114-2 81:26 mins
The 19th-century composer Carl Reinecke may have long been underrated, but his music ranges from joyful pieces for children to serious opera, all premiered in his lifetime with varying degrees of success. Following in the tradition of conductors who composed music for the Leipzig Gewandhaus, which he directed from 1860-95, his music was inherently conservative but frequently well-wrought, full of broadly orchestrated drama and attention to detail. If Reinecke wrote Maestoso on the score, Maestoso is what you got, and in spades.
The Munich Radio Orchestra and Henry Raudales make fine champions of Reinecke, concentrating on his symphonies. Their impassioned playing underlines his more inspired writing, not least the fizzing, pent-up energy of the third movement of Symphony No. 3, written in his 70s. The Symphony No. 1, with its energy and lightness – the Scherzo would not be out of place as ballet music – is lavishly played before the short Triumphmarsch, which does exactly as it says on the tin, with much pomp and brass. But it is the pensive and exquisite prelude to Act V of his opera König Manfred, superbly imagined here, that is one of the highlights, telling a story and setting a scene, rather than fulfilling a brief. It is clear why it was such a hit with contemporary audiences.
Sarah Urwin Jones