Wagenaar: Sinfonietta; Frühlingsgewalt; Elverhöi; Amphitrion; Le Cid

Reviewed on Tue 21 Apr, 2015

If the music of Dutchman Johan Wagenaar (1862-1941) doesn’t get much of a look in these days, it deserves better. This second CPO volume of his symphonic poems begins outside of this genre with the bright and breezy Sinfonietta, four agreeable movements of varied hues. What follows is also very likeable, descriptive and colourful music that engages and paints pictures and does so with skill, genuineness and with the desire to delight. To greater or lesser degrees, if not necessarily on the same level, composers such as Grieg, Korngold, Schumann and Richard Strauss came to mind, but there is also a distinct personality at work here, and Wagenaar (violinist, organist, choir conductor, conservatoire director) was certainly successful and popular during his lifetime. This is not life-changing or (depending on reaction) desert-island music, but if a change is as good as a rest, then the Wagenaar byway is one worth travelling.
–Colin Anderson