Jadassohn: Symphonies 1-4

Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt, Howard Griffiths
127:34 (2 CDs)
cpo 777 607-2
+Cavatine op. 69 (Klaudyna Schulze-Broniewska violin), Cavatine op. 120 (Thomas Georgi cello)

Jadassohn’s name came up frequently when I was looking into musical life in late 19th-century Dundee; as one of the Leipzig conservatory’s professors, he taught many of the Scots students and wrote annual reports on their progress. My curiosity to hear his little-known music was piqued by the Naxos lists and they kindly sent me a review copy. The excellent booklet notes suggest that Jadassohn realised that he was not keeping pace with changes in musical fashion and that his symphonies found little favour with later audiences. There is nothing “wrong” with any of these four substantial works, and indeed there is much to admire and enjoy ā€“ he had a keen ear for instrumental colour (his textbook, “A course in instruction of instrumentation” is still readily available!) and also a strong feeling for musical architecture; every part of his creation has its rightful place. And yet there is something unchallenging and comfortable about it all; there are no great shocks or surprises. That is not to say that the music is dull or monotonous ā€“ not in the least! The most attractive material is perhaps to be found in the two solo works, like slow movements from unwritten concertos, beautifully rendered by members of the orchestra. If you find the listening experience a little intense, simply turn to the back of the booklet, where a photo of director Howard Griffiths about to perform an expelliarmus charm on someone will soon lighten your mood!

Brian Clark