ANDRIESSEN:  Concerto for Organ and Orchestra.  BADINGS:  Concerto for Harp and Small Orchestra.  ORTHEL:  Scherzo No. 2 for Orchestra.  FLOTHUIS:  Concerto for Flute and Orchestra
François-Henri Houbart, organist/Ellen Versney, harpist/Raymond Delnoye, flutist/Brabant Orch/Marc Soustrot, cond

DONEMUS CV 77  (F)  (ADD)  TT:  71:48

This is part of the Donemus "Jubilee Series" featuring national orchestras and ensembles of the Netherlands other than the "majors" -- the Royal Concertgebouw, Rotterdam Philharmonic and Hague Residentie orchestras.  It's strange that the CD pamphlet doesn't give any information about the Brabant Orchestra or its conductor, Marc Soustrot, who has made a number of recordings with Loire Philharmonic for the Pierre Verany label as well as conducting EMI's Fra Diavolo, with the Monte Carlo Orchestra. The Brabant orchestra is excellent, with particular kudos to their horn section for negotiating so successfully the treacherous horn solos in the Flothius concerto.

This is an intriguing collection primarily of concertos, the one exception being Léon Orthel's Scherzo No. 2, Op. 38. Orthel (1905-1985) wrote this in 1957. It is a heavy-handed "scherzo" surely not what one would expect from the title. The composer said the figure of Hieronymus Bosch "loomed before me during the process of is an indication that this scherzo is no laughing matter."  CD notes describe it as a "hideous grimace" and they are correct.

Hendrik Andriessen (1892-1981) was a fine organist as well as recognized composer.  He wrote his Organ Concerto in 1950; the premiere was that year with the composer as soloist with  the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Pierre Monteux.  Many years ago I heard a transcription of this; it is included in the Concertgebouw Anthology series Volume I). There are two "movements" to this 15-minute concerto, an opening "Introduction and Passacaglia", followed by a lively "Toccata."  (Note: the Monteux performance is included in the Concertgebouw Anthology series Volume I).

Henk Badings (1907-1987) is more adventuresome than Andriessen, always searching for new orchestral colors. He had a close association with the American Wind Symphony which commissioned many works.  One of these was the Concerto for Harp and Wind Orchestra written in 1967 dedicated to the famous Dutch harpist Phia Berghout who for many years was first harp with the Concertgebouw.  Later that year the composer made an arrangement for harp and small orchestra, heard on this new CD.  There are three movements to this 22-minute concerto which  exploits the full expressive potential of the solo instrument.  There are many mysterious sounds, sharp punctuation from the imaginative orchestration  (including two bongos). This surely is a major addition to the small repertory of concertos for the instrument, magnificently played by Ellen Versney.

The Flute Concerto, Op. 19 by Marius Flothuis (b. 1914) was conceived in 1944 when the composer was imprisoned by the Germans at an internment camp. It was completed the following year and  dedicated to  Everard van Royen who played the premiere in Utrecht in December 1945.  In spite of the dire circumstances of its composition, the  21-minute concerto is a pleasant work replete with dances, semi-comic interludes, much display work for the soloist, and imaginative scoring -- a relatively small orchestra, using four timpani that are important through the music.  Raymond Delnoye is the first-class soloist.

Sonic quality is consistently high in all four works.  All were recorded by the Dutch Radio, the Badings before an audience.  These are all premiere commercial recordings highly recommended for those looking for music not available elsewhere.

R.E.B. (Aug. 2001)