RBM CD 465 108
RBM CD 465 108

CD Reviews: Cello Concerto No.1

Cello Concerto No.1 op.193 and orchestral arrangement of J.S.Bach's Chaconne for solo violin WoO.39, Carl Reinecke: Cello Concerto op.82 and 4 movements from "Biblical Pictures"

Tübingen Physician's Orchestra, Conductor: Norbert Kirchmann, Cellist: Thomas Blees
RBM CD 465 108 DDD 76:16

As its name already proclaims, the members of this orchestra aren't professional musicians but Monday to Friday they hold the scalpel or the surgery list in their hands. Sixteen years ago Norbert Kirchmann established the orchestra and since then has made sure that regular rehearsals and concerts take place, despite the notorious time constraints of every doctor. With that knowledge, one is immediately determined to award some bonus points, as it would be unfair to apply the same standard of evaluation as for a professional orchestra. Certainly one would have to report that in these renditions of four compositions by Joachim Raff and Carl Reinecke quite slow tempi are adopted and the continuity of performance is not always achieved: the final polish is missing.

Listen to an audio extarct From towards the end of the Chaconne orchestration, this extract demonstrates Kirchmann's measured tempi [2:00]

However, it isn't that rare to make the same observation about concerts from Metropolitan orchestras. If one puts aside the fact that Kirchmann's orchestra cannot compete with ensembles of the international class, then the music-making doctors make up for this deficiency by intensive activity in many areas. At the back of the booklet, written by Dr. Kirchmann, he lists their previous projects, and in particular one is amazed by the great potential of such an orchestra: instead of the usual Beethoven, Wagner and Brahms programmes, the unknown repertoire dominates. Works by Gade, Bruch, Herzogenberg or Kunad - otherwise unheard-of composers - as well as the complete "Rosamunde" incidental music of Schubert, or Liszt's 3rd. Piano Concerto.

Along with Max Bruch, Kirchmann has particularly promoted the music of Joachim Raff and, presented with many possibilities for an original programme, his CD recording brings to light four "world premieres". So Raff's Cello Concerto No.1 finds itself on the CD together with the famous Chaconne from Bach's d minor solo Suite for Violin. This work was also arranged by Brahms and Busoni, but only Raff's piano arrangement has been available on CD until now - this time it is the orchestral version. Thomas Blees seems to have no fear of getting to grips with this repertoire, and has welcomed such exhumations for his instrument again and again.

Listen to an audio extract This excerpt, the opening pages of the Raff Concerto's slow movement, illustrates Blees' sensitive interpretation [1:59]

The second piece which he plays here is probably the best work of the programme - Carl Reinecke's Cello Concerto, also in d minor. Reinecke's music has made increasing appearances on CD in recent years, but in contrast to Raff there have been hardly any orchestral works. More interest has been shown in his chamber music. Admittedly his trios and sonatas demonstrate an individual trait. His orchestral scores are often solidly constructed, but however much Reinecke strove he never got much recognition from civic concerts and music clubs, although this was not exactly true of his opera scores. Reinecke's Biblical Pictures for orchestra op. 220, together with the Raff scores, show how they adapted the Biedermeier tradition, which was their common musical heritage through the developments of Mendelssohn and Schumann, to show their own individuality.

Unlike other recordings of this orchestra, this CD is only available privately and not through usual CD outlets.

Matthias Wiegandt

[This review was originally published in German in the Newsletter of the Joachim Raff Society]

If you are finding it difficult to buy this CD,the "Where to buy CDs" page may help.
Do you disagree with this review, or would like to air your own opinions of the CD? Why not submit your own review?

© 1999-2017 Mark Thomas. All rights reserved.