Sutermeister: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 / Held, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Heinrich Sutermeister (1910–95) belongs to the generation of Swiss composers after Bloch, Honegger, Martin and Schoeck. The runaway success of his operatic version of Romeo and Juliet – in the 1950s it was the most widely produced modern opera after Der Rosenkavalier – soon spread his reputation far afield, and conductors as prominent as Böhm, Karajan and Sawallisch championed his works. Although his star has waned in the quarter-century since his death, the four orchestral works recorded here – ranging from the dramatic suite he drew from that first Shakespearean operatic success via the easy-going charm of two lighter suites to his deeply felt response to the Swiss landscape – bring a salutary reminder of why his music appeals so directly to its audiences. This generously filled recording (it’s over 87 minutes in length) is the first in a project where Rainer Held will be recording unknown Swiss orchestral repertoire for release on Toccata Classics.
The fact that this is advertised as the first volume of an ongoing series is cause for rejoicing. So too is the fact that the disc is so generously packed – the longest conventional CD that I have ever encountered. I found no difficulty in playing it, although others may find their machines reacting differently. But the recorded sound is magnificent, even when the balance is unconventional; the booklet, with notes and biographies in English and German, is substantial and informative; and the playing and conducting is generally of excellent quality. All the tracks are described as first recordings; Christian Heindl in his booklet note refers to a Vienna “studio recording” of the Romeo und Julia suite conducted by the composer in 1956, but this never appears to have surfaced internationally. Those for whom Sutermeister is just a name (if that) should certainly investigate further.
-- MusicWeb International
Release Date: May 17, 2019
Catalog Number: TOCC0420
Label: Toccata Classics
Number of Discs: 1
Period: 20th Century
Composer: Heinrich Sutermeister
Conductor: Reiner Held
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Performer: Bruno Cathomas