Salomon Jadassohn: Orchestral Works

Although Jadassohn was a distinguished teacher and wrote several important books on composition and music theory, he considered himself primarily a composer. He was acknowledged to be a master of counterpoint and harmony, but he was also a gifted melodist in the tradition of Mendelssohn. His works show too the influence of Wagner and Liszt, whose music deeply impressed him.
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Three of the works on this twofer (Op. 24, 80 and 89) have previously been released by Cameo Classics over two volumes entitled Music of 19th Century Jewish-German Composers, with Op. 24 and Op. 89 now undergoing yet a third recycling. This latest incarnation, with Cameo Classics now owned by Lyrita, is devoted exclusively to the German pianist, composer and renowned teacher Salomon Jadassohn. He was a graduate of the Leipzig Conservatory and also spent some time studying privately with Liszt in Weimar. He later taught at the Conservatory, and his list of pupils reads like a Who's Who of notable composers including Grieg, Delius and Busoni. Sadly, his memory has faded due, in part, to his music being conservative. His career was somewhat hampered by the fact that he was a Jew. This closed many doors for him, certainly in securing a church post as music director or organist. As a composer he was prolific, having four symphonies, two piano concertos and a substantial assemblage of chamber works to his name.

Jadassohn’s Symphony No. 1 is an immensely attractive work, saturated with echos of Schumann, especially the second movement Scherzo, and a peppering of Dvořák . Generous on melody and skillfully orchestrated it makes for a pleasing listen, despite not being the profoundest music around. Marius Stravinsky and the Belarussian State Symphony Orchestra deliver a performance with plenty of personality and freshness. The Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor, Op. 89 is a compact work, whose brevity extends to just 16 minutes. Like the Symphony it's melodically gifted, but more passionate and dramatic. Technically souped up ala Liszt on steroids, the pianist hits the ground running from the start. Valentina Seferinova's technical grasp of the work’s complexities and persuasive account will win this delightful work many friends.

Guaranteed to lift the spirits with its geniality and charm, the Serenade for Flute and Strings Op. 80 dates from 1860 as a commission from the New York Philharmonic Club. The work has a distinguishing Mendelssohnian flavour. I'm particularly drawn to the finale, which is a sprightly Tarantella. Rebecca Hall's playing is richly soused with good-humour and has exceptional appeal. Jadassohn’s gift for contrapuntal writing is very much demonstrated in the Serenade No. 1 in 4 Canons, Op. 42. Cast in five movements, the short central Adagietto is lyrically memorable for its ardent tenderness, with the Intermezzo, which follows, revealing a deft hand at imaginative woodwind scoring. Likewise, Serenades 2 and 3, though qualifying as ‘light’ music, render to the listener a surfeit of delights.

The recordings have been gathered from a variety of sources, but all sound fresh and vivid. It is commendable that these treasures have been dusted down, as there are many rewards to be had.  Stephen Greenbank, MusicWeb

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