Hard on the heels of the world-premiere recording of Hans Gál’s First Symphony (AV 2224), internationally celebrated conductor Thomas Zehetmair follows with a superb value 2-CD set including the first ever recording of Gál’s Second Symphony, alongside Schubert’s “Great” Ninth. The release showcases two ends of a great melodic tradition, presenting Gál’s music alongside 19th-century symphonic repertoire that represents its roots and core values.
Gál’s Second Symphony is perhaps the most personal of his four, with an emotional depth and haunting beauty that inspired Gál’s biographer, Wilhelm Waldstein, to write of the slow movement: “it is, I dare to assert, the most important Adagio since Bruckner.” Written in 1942-43, during the darkest war years, this symphony distils the process of overcoming pain and loss into the language of pure music.
Featuring Northern Sinfonia in their spectacular venue Hall One of The Sage Gateshead, these recordings underscore Zehetmair’s hallmark electrifying intensity, precision and vision.
This release continues Avie’s ongoing celebration of the music of Hans Gál, following highly acclaimed releases of the complete works for solo piano by Leon McCawley (AV 0064), chamber works for Violin and Piano featuring Annette-Barbara Vogel (AV 2182), and concertante works for violin and orchestra, also with Vogel, and Kenneth Woods conducting Northern Sinfonia (AV 2146).
"...The Schubert receives a well drilled and direct reading. Clarity is a watchword and a general avoidance of expressive extremes. It’s well-paced, and full of probity and warm phrasing. Balances, too, are secure. It doesn’t chart the kind of emotive course established by Furtwängler, say, to take one example of a conductor who harnessed its rhetoric to an often dramatic sense of engagement. Nevertheless it’s a precision-conscious, very worthwhile performance. Necessarily, though, the Gál symphony is the primary point of interest. Excellent annotations and a fine, vivid recorded quality enhance the production no end."
Jonathan Woolf - musicweb-international.com - 27 April 2012
Guy Wagner - Pizzicato magazine - January 2012