Rheinberger: Wallenstein - Krumpöck
Ars Produktion ARS 38 284
Classical - Orchestral
Rheinberger: Wallenstein, Op. 10
Florian Krumpöck (conductor)
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Review by Adrian Quanjer - March 23, 2020
With this album, the Liechtenstein Symphony Orchestra not only celebrates 300 years of history of The Principality of Liechtenstein but also, though with a difference of merely one year and one zero, that of its own! Attractive enough for Liechtensteiners, friends of the orchestra, and possibly beyond, to own this disc.
On closer examination, it becomes clear that its importance reaches much farther than that. For this celebration, the 31-year-old orchestra has recorded the ‘Sinfonisches Tongemälde “Wallenstein”’ from the Liechtenstein born composer, Josef Rheinberger. also known as his first Symphony Opus 10. A befitting choice for the occasion. But giving at the same time a unique opportunity for music lovers at large to familiarize themselves with a work of a late romantic composer, who is known amongst connoisseurs for choral, chamber, and organ music but hardly so for any of his two symphonies. I found a listing of only one other recording of the ‘Wallenstein’ Symphony, but not in Super Audio. All the more reason to bring it to attention.
For the benefit of less geographically informed listeners, the accompanying booklet describes in detail all historical aspects of the Principality, one of the smallest countries in the world. But small can be big as well. In the field of music education, Liechtenstein has established itself with a name and fame that widely surpasses its borders. The International Academy of Music in Liechtenstein serves as a breeding ground for young and talented musicians from all over the globe, granting generous bursaries to the best of them. Moreover, its Director, Dražen Domjanic, who is also CEO and Artistic Director of the Liechtenstein Symphony Orchestra, has, for all I know, been instrumental in a thorough upgrade of the orchestra. To this end, a young and promising pianist cum conductor, Florian Krumpöck, was contracted and given the task and free rein to reorganize the national orchestra with a view to lifting it above the level of merely local interest.
From the liner notes, we learn that this versatile musician started his career as a much-in-demand pianist, who, in recognition of his artistic value, was invited to become both a Blüthner and a Bösendorfer Artist, with the latter manufacturer providing him with a personal Imperial grand concert piano. In 2006 followed his conducting debut with the Jerusalem Symphony, to be appointed 5 years later, at the age of 33, one of Germany's youngest Music Directors with the prestigious Norddeutsche Philharmonie Rostock, becoming the following year (2012) artistic director and principal conductor of the Liechtenstein Symphony Orchestra.
In the course of his tenure at the helm of the orchestra, it has grown considerably in size and quality. That said, Florian Krumpöck was not the only one having had a decisive hand in shaping its present form. His successor, Maestro Stefan Sanderling (Yes, Kurt’s son) added his professional experience to build an orchestral standard that is more than adequately resourceful to successfully accompany major soloists like Arabella Steinbacher, Antje Weithaas, Sabine Meyer, Lars Vogt, and Lang Lang, to name just but a few.
Special mention should also be made of the orchestra’s (guest) ‘Konzertmeister’, Marc Bouchkov, amongst others prize winner of the 2012 Belgian Queen Elizabeth Violin Competition (and in the meantime also having obtained a second prize and silver medal at the 2019 Moscow XVI International Tchaikovsky Competition), sharing his impressive musical and technical insight with old and newly appointed colleagues for the benefit of all.
Putting all these facts together, it will not come as a surprise that I was more than pleased to listen to this well-disciplined orchestral formation, convincingly delivering a splendid reading of a symphony I had not heard before. The Krumpöck – Bouchkov team has clearly shown its effect: Silken strings, warm woodwinds, and brassy clarions. One more pristine ensemble on my list.
Although this release is primarily a homage to the Principality, it serves nonetheless, and for reasons mentioned above, a much wider purpose. Not only does it allow us to acquaint ourselves with a till now largely unknown orchestra deserving better, but it also gives us a well-played and superbly recorded document, surely of interest to all those wanting to know more about Rheinberger’s symphonic output.
I don’t know the recording venue (Saal am Lindaplatz), but it would seem to me that the acoustics may not be the most ideal. I missed some ‘bite’ and clarity in the upper-frequency range. The ARS recording engineers have nonetheless managed to create a realistic soundstage with sufficient width and attractive surrounding depth.
Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.
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