Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fuchs, the serenading teacher

One of my main discoveries of recent months: the Austrian composer Robert Fuchs (1847 – 1927) is practically forgotten nowadays, but the usually so critical Brahms thought very highly of him ("Fuchs is a splendid musician, everything is so fine and so skillful, so charmingly invented, that one is always pleased"). Moreover, the list of his students is jaw-dropping: it includes Enescu, Mahler, Wolf, Sibelius, von Zemlinsky, Korngold, Schmidt, and Schreker. His piano concerto (recorded in the Hyperion Romantic Piano concerto series) and organ music (available on Motette) are well worth listening to, but Fuchs was especially renowned for his five orchestral serenades. These are wonderful late romantic compositions that should be programmed far more than they are. The Naxos CD I selected as an introduction includes the first two serenades (composed probably in the 1870's), as well as a charming Andante grazioso and Capriccio, dating from much later. Impeccable playing by the Cologne Chamber Orchestra under Christian Ludwig. Warmly recommended.