|Roberto Gerhard|| |
Concerto for Orchestra
Symphony No. 2
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Although the avowed purpose of Gerhard’s Concerto for Orchestra (1965) was to highlight the orchestra as an entity rather than its constituent sections or instruments, and while it may not have the immediate universal appeal of, say, Kodály’s or Bartók’s works with the same title, it has never been surpassed for its imaginative handling of instrumental sonorities or for its virtuoso demands on the players. It has to be said right away that this is a stunning performance: not merely does the BBC SO rise spectacularly to the work’s demands, but Bamert shows himself exceptionally skilful at securing internal balances. It’s worth quoting Gerhard’s own words: ‘My favourite listener is one who does not read explanatory programme notes … I stand by the sound of my music, and it is the sound that must make the sense…a work of music takes shape only in the mind of the listener.’ Gerhard’s Second Symphony has been represented on disc only by the revised version (Metamorphosis) which had had to be completed by Alan Boustead (available on Auvidis Montaigne); although Gerhard may have felt the original too cerebral, it was at least all his, and tough going as it undoubtedly is, it’s very welcome to all interested in the mental processes of this quite exceptional musician. The opening of the work’s second section, with its clicking percussion, is hauntingly mysterious, and the final nightmare palindrome Scherzo (of which only a fraction exists in the Boustead version) is one of his most astonishing creations. With first-class recording throughout, this must be regarded as an essential disc for all admirers of Gerhard.
The Gramophone Classical Music Guide