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Album at a Glance

Tonal and ConsonantOrchestral
CPO Records Record Label - cpo: Mission: "to fill niches in the recorded classical repertory, with an emphasis on romantic, late romantic and 20th-century music."
Release date: 2012-07-31


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The Romantic Orchestral Music of Felix Woyrsch


The north-German composer Felix Woyrsch (1860-1944) came from humble beginnings. His family was underprivileged and financially insecure due to the premature death of his father. As the story goes, Woyrsch’s musical talents were first discovered when he appeared at a fun fair as a Kunstpfeifer (whistler). Upon hearing him, the young boy’s choral director took him under his wing, providing piano and theory lessons at no charge and inviting him to perform in his choral concerts.

Still, with little other formal education, Woyrsch was largely self-taught, learning by independently studying the music of renaissance, classical and romantic masters. The compositions on this cpo CD came from a time when the direction of music had fragmented variously toward neoclassicism, impressionism, expressionism and atonalism. Felix Woyrsch continued to embrace the German symphonic tradition, in the company of other composers that included Franz Schmidt, Alexander von Zemlinsky, and Paul Juon – composers whose music is being reevaluated and appreciated only in recent decades.

As you listen, the ties to Schumann, Brahms and Bruckner are evident throughout Woyrsch’s music. It is characterized by programmatic themes, late-romantic harmonies, bold dissonances, short and often layered themes, lush orchestration and a generally optimistic outlook. The music on this cpo CD includes Woyrsch’s Symphony No. 2, Op. 60 and his Hamlet Overture, Op. 56.

Performances by Thomas Dorsch and the Oldenburgisches Staatsorchester serve the music very well. If you are one of those listeners who would be perfectly happy had the romantic orchestral tradition continued a little longer, this will be a welcome addition to your collection.

Though not a work on this CD, below is a YouTube video where you can listen to Woyrsch’s first symphony.