Gál: Symphony No 1 in D major, Op 30; Schumann: Symphony No 1 in B flat major, Op 38 (Spring)

Reviewed on Thu 12 Jun, 2014

The First of Hans Gál's four symphonies was completed in November 1927 and premiered in Düsseldorf 13 months later. It is a compact, skilfully wrought and immensely personable creation, scored with a marvellously deft touch, full of first-rate ideas and boasting a highly affecting slow movement ('Elegie') – small wonder it was performed frequently in Germany prior to Hitler's rise to power (after which Gál, a Viennese-born Jew, was summarily dismissed from his post at the Mainz Conservatory and his music banned). Hats off to the indefatigable Kenneth Woods and the Orchestra of the Swan for rounding off their revelatory Gál symphony cycle for Avie in such commensurate, urgently communicative fashion and bringing to Schumann's comparably sparkling and life-enhancing 'Spring' Symphony such boundless vitality, scrupulous fidelity to the printed score, delicious wit and (above all) entrancing freshness of new discovery. This stylish and consistently invigorating coupling represents both an exemplary rescue act and genuine tonic to boot. Investigate without delay!
–Andrew Achenbach