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Album at a Glance

Tonal and ConsonantOrchestral

Record Label: German record label founded by recording and mixing specialist Ralf Koschnicke specializing in high definition recordings of symphonic orchestral music (Acousence Classics) and of selected jazz ensembles (Acousence Jazz) on CD, DVD+FLAC, SACD and classic vinyl records. FLAC downloads are made available through their partner Linn Records.
Release Date: 2005-06-01


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Hans Rott: Symphony No. 1 in E major / Catherine Rückwardt


The music of Austrian composer Hans Rott is little known, even to many seasoned collectors, however it holds a pivotal place in music history during the transition from the late 19th century to the early 20th. This Acousence CD contains the composer's most important work, his Symphony No. 1 in E major. It's performed (and the performance is absolutely stunning!) by the Philharmonisches Orchester des Staatstheaters Mainz conducted by Catherine Rückwardt as part of the label's Living Concert Series.

As you listen to the sample from the album provided in the sidebar, the opening to the third movement, you'll no doubt begin thinking how much the music sounds like Mahler. Although it's clearly influenced by Brahms, Bruckner and Wagner, the resemblance to Mahler is uncanny. It exits in the thematic material itself - you've heard many tunes very similar to these in Mahler's music. But here's the rub; Rott's Symphony No. 1 in E major was written a full decade before Mahler published his First Symphony, and Mahler was very familiar with this composition by Rott. So, it's Mahler who sounds like Rott!

In spite of his persistent efforts, Rott's symphony was not performed during his lifetime. Worse than this, it was met largely with antipathy and often contempt. Brahms told Rott that he had no talent whatsoever and should quit composing. Unfortunately, Rott lacked the self-assurance to overcome this blow and other hardships in his life and was eventually overcome by mental illness. Ultimately, he was committed to a mental hospital and died of tuberculosis shortly after his 25th birthday. Who can say what an enormous loss this may have been to Western music?

The orchestral parts are treacherous and demand great virtuosity and endurance of the orchestra, especially from the brass. One could quibble about a few lapses in the performance here and there, but keeping in mind this is a live performance, the reading is amazingly powerful and secure. The recorded sound is excellent, and there is no audience noise until the well deserved thunderous reception at the end.

The performance below is not from this album, but contains the complete first movement of Rott's Symphony in E major