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.
Hans Rott (1858-1884)
Philharmonisches Orchester des Staatstheaters Mainz
Catherine Rückwardt, conductor
Mahler called Rott “a musician of genius … who died unrecognized and in want on the very threshold of his career.”
The LIVING CONCERT SERIES embodies, in a very special way, the basic concept behind ACOUSENCE’s PHILOSOPHY-LABEL. These music recordings are planned to provide, aside from exceptional musical content and an audiophile sound quality, above all, emotionally intense performances. The spontaneity and naturalness of a live performance, combined with a highly refined recording technique, that is capable of transmitting the smallest of sound-nuances, so essential in portraying atmosphere and emotional content, provide a true Concert experience.
Hans Rott (1 August 1858–25 June 1884) was an Austrian composer. His music is little-known today, though he received high praise in his time from the likes of Gustav Mahler and Anton Bruckner.
“… a musician of genius … who died unrecognized and in want on the very threshold of his career. … What music has lost in him cannot be estimated. Such is the height to which his genius soars in … [his] Symphony [in E major], which he wrote as 20-year-old youth. … He is so near to my inmost self that he and I seem to me like two fruits from the same tree which the same soil has produced and the same air nourished. He could have meant infinitely much to me and perhaps the two of us would have well-nigh exhausted the content of new time which was breaking out for music.” – Gustav Mahler
Catherine Rückwardt was born in Los Angeles. In the last few years she has become one of the most sought after conductors in Germany. She is Music Director of the Mainz Staatstheater since 2001, and her innovative programming, large repertoire and the widely recognised, highly praised “Mainz Orchestral Sound” (“Mainzer Klang”) have made the music profession take notice of her.
Philharmonishes Orchester des Staatstheaters Mainz
In addition to participation in Opera and ballet performances at the State Theatre – including also world premieres – the Orchestra presents itself also in various concert series, covering not only the repertoire from Baroque to the present day, but makes its mark through unusual and interesting Programme planning, that is also open to experiments, and moreover makes a large contribution to children and youth work.