The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, although a relatively small orchestra, is one of the most adventurous orchestras in Europe and one of the best orchestras in a country that has more symphonies per capita than any other country. Based in Helsinki, it is the primary radio orchestra of the Finnish Broadcasting Company.
Schelomo receives its mead of barbarous splendour at the hands of Nelsova and Abravanel. The recording is a shade too warm but Nelsova (who recorded far too little) who studied the piece with the composer demonstrates her familiarity and sympathy with the piece. This is essential as Schelomo is one of those works that can easily seem nondescript if the artists involved are unengaged. In that sense it is rather like the Bax cello concerto (still awaiting its ideal exponent on disc). This is Nelsova's second, recording of the work. The feverish grip of the music is strongly asserted.
Ernest Bloch's major works for violin and piano may compel respect, but they might not inspire love or give much pleasure. The violent, unstable Violin Sonata No. 1 (1920) is a bracing expression of the turbulence of World War I, and Bloch pushes the music's tension to incredible lengths over the work's 30 minutes. One may appreciate the sincerity of Bloch's expression and the effort he put in this wrenching work, but still not find it enjoyable or moving for its severity and frequent ugliness.
Swiss-American composer Ernest Bloch is best known for his works on Jewish themes and subjects – Baal Shem, Schelomo, the Israel Symphony – but the majority of his works are abstract, if heavily accented music written in the standard late nineteenth century central European harmonies and forms. This 2007 Hyperion disc features two large-scale chamber works by Bloch, his three-movement piano quintets from 1923 and 1957, plus three shorter pieces for string quartet alone: Night and Paysages (Landscapes) both from 1923 and Two Pieces from 1938 and 1950.
Natalie Clein, whose previous recording of the music of Ernest Bloch was described as ‘inspired’ by The Sunday Times, turns to his three suites for solo cello as part of a recital of works written in the aftermath of the Second World War. The sombre voice of the cello seems especially apposite in music of such deep seriousness, Ligeti’s short sonata providing an energetic and life-affirming finale.