Classical CD Reviews

HERMANN SUTER: Symphony in D Minor; WERNER WEHRLI: ‘Chilbizite’ for Orchestra – Aargauer Sym. Orch./ Douglas Bostock – Musiques Suisses

A pair of Swiss Late Romantic composers; music that deserves to be heard.

Published on May 30, 2013

HERMANN SUTER: Symphony in D Minor; WERNER WEHRLI: ‘Chilbizite’ for Orchestra – Aargauer Sym. Orch./ Douglas Bostock – Musiques Suisses MGB CD 6274, 57:38 [Distr. by Qualiton] ****:

I suspect most collectors of out-of-the-way CDs don’t know the names of either Suter or Wehrli, unless, of course, Swiss music of  the 20th century is a personal pursuit. Suter (1870-1926) and Wehrli (1892-1944) are late romantic composers who are not well known, even if their music holds some interest and deserves to be heard.

The Suter Symphony (the only one he wrote) is reminiscent of Max Reger’s orchestral works with some Richard Strauss thrown in for good measure. However, Suter’s musical voice is unique and as a result of the influences mentioned (plus a little Bruckner added, too); it shows his skill, not at imitation or outright plagiarism, but a distinct and respectful reference to the more towering composers mentioned.

The 1913/14 Suter Symphony is in four movements. The second movement has a repetitive figure that sticks with you, at least for a while. The whole symphony is fairly elaborate and runs about 44 minutes. It is easy to digest if late Romantic Germanic music is your interest. There is one other recording of the symphony and another of some chamber music, neither of which I have heard, which is all of Suter on disc.

This particular recording of the symphony is coupled with Werner Wehrli’s “Chilbizite” for orchestra. It is entertaining and short (13 minutes), but the composer either spent too much time with the music of Smetana or worked with some original melodies that Smetana did also.

Conductor Douglas Bostock conducts the Aargauer Symphony Orchestra which sounds like a very good ensemble. They acquit themselves appropriately with these two works.  English-born and educated Bostock has conducted several recordings of out-of-the-way material. He was a private pupil of Sir Adrian Boult  during  Boult’s years. The sound on this Musiques Suisses label is top-notch.

—Zan Furtwangler




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