Diepenbrock: Elektra (Symphonic Suite); De Vogels – Overture; Marsyas (Concert Suite)

Reviewed on Thu 27 Oct, 2016

Elektra, Diepenbrock’s last completed score, is undoubtedly the most forthright work heard here. It fuses a vivid sense of character around the major personas of Orestes, Electra, Clytemnestra and the Furies with a penchant for the darker timbres of low woodwinds and brass.

Self-taught Dutch composer Alphons Diepenbrock (1862-1921) was respected by Mahler, Strauss and Schoenberg during his lifetime, though his music still has to find a widespread audience. These three examples of his orchestral theatre music (not symphonic poems in the strict sense of the genre) perhaps indicate why. The overture De Vogels (‘The Birds’) tries a little too hard to realise humour and leaves its thematic material rather underdeveloped. The two suites, drawn from larger compositions, are more complex. Marsyas’s five movements show Debussy’s influence in their searching harmonies that pushed the boundary for Dutch composition at the time. Elektra, Diepenbrock’s last completed score, is undoubtedly the most forthright work heard here. It fuses a vivid sense of character around the major personas of Orestes, Electra, Clytemnestra and the Furies with a penchant for the darker timbres of low woodwinds and brass. Antony Hermus brings out the music’s drama by drawing dynamic playing from the Bambergers. A greater range of instrumental colour and more assured performances than those from Hans Vonk (Chandos) make this the preferable choice. Useful introductory notes; good recorded sound.
–Evan Dickerson