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Symphonically Swiss


Works of Veress, Bloch and Brun are performed by the Berne Symphony Orchestra under Dmitrij Kitajenko. Guest soloist on Bloch's Symphony for Trombone and Orchestra is Stanley Clark.

Dmitrij Kitajenko

Born in St. Petersburg in 1940, Dmitrij Kitajenko studied at the Glinka School of Music and the conervatories of St. Peterburg and Moscow. Kitajenko first earned international acclaim as a prizewinner at the first Herbert von Karajan Competition in Berlin. During 14 years he was the principal conductor of the Moscow Philharmonic (1976-1990). Another following 14 years saw him as principal conductor of the Berne Symphony Orchestra (1990-2004). His work during this period enriched Bernese musical life enormously. Dmitrij Kitajenko is considered as leading interpreter of Russian music. His interpretations of late Romantic composers was noteworthy, too. His imagination and committment are also evident regarding rare or neglected works, as is the case with this edition of Swiss composers.

Berne Symphony Orchestra (BSO)

The Bernese Symphony Orchestra (BSO) was founded in 1877. Since then it has been led by a number of noteworthy musicians, including Fritz Brun (from 1909-1941), Luc Balmer and Charles Dutoit. Paul Kletzki’s conductorship (1964-1968)marked a period of extraordinary development for the orchestra. In retrospect, Kitajenkos leadership led to comparable results. thereby the Berne Symphony Orchestra has developed a unique sound marked by remarkable registerwise balance and extended dynamic range. The BSO and Dmitrij Kitajenko earned overhelming praise and were considered to be among Switzerland’s most prestigious symphony orchestras.

Stanley Clark

Stanley Clark was born in Toronto (Canada) in 1957. Following musical studies at the University of Toronto and at london’s Royal College of Music he became principal trombonist in the Canadian Chamber Ensemble and in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Stanley Clark has been principal trombonist of the Berne Symphony Orchestra since 1985. besides Stanley Clark has performed throughout Canada, Greece, Germany, England and Switzerland. His repertoire spans the Renaissance to the modern, including arrangements of popular music.

Sándor Veress (1907-1992)

Sándor Veress’ music adds exotic quality to this edition featuring Swiss composers. Versess, who was born in Transylvania, immigrated to Switzerland in 1949, where he made his home until his death in 1992. He studied piano with Béla Bartók and composition with Zoltán Kodály. But he started to work first as assistant at the Hungarian Ethnographic Museum in Budapest. Only later he began to combine, like Bartók and others, elements of folk music with harmonic innovations and compositional techniques from contemporary music.
From 1953 to 1943 Veress assisted Bartók at the Folk Music Department of the Academy of Sciences in Budapest while also teaching composition at the conservatory. Veress’ interest in musical cultures brought him to Switzerland.
He mainly began teaching composition at the Berne Conservatory from 1950 on. Besides from 1971 he was appointed professor for musicology at the University of Berne.

Sándor Veress emphasized the fact that the Transylvanian Dances are not transcriptions of folk music, but free creations of certain dance music styles. The free adaption of style in each dance evokes certain rhythmical characteristics which determine a melodic profile.

Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)

Ernest Bloch was born in Geneva and began his career as a violinist. But after studying composition in Frankfurt and Munich, the former student of Eugène Ysaÿe started to devote his energies entirely to composing.
In 1904 Bloch worked as conductor in Geneva. From 1911 to 1915 he taught music esthetics and composition at the Geneva Conservatory (teaching a.o. Ernest Ansermet). In 1916 Bloch left Switzerland to accompany American dancer Maud Allan as her conductor. The following 14 years saw him working in the cities of New York, Cleveland and San Francisco (as teacher and director of these cities conservatories). From 1930 to 1938 the composer resided in central Europe. But the growing anti-Semitism forced his return to the United States, where he took up work at the University of California in Berkeley until 1952.

Although Bloch is little known in Switzerland itself, internationally, he is the most frequently performed Swiss composer. His “Symphony for Trombone and Orchestra”, together with Darius Milhaud’s “Concertino d’Hiver”, is among the most important and widely performed 20th century compositions for this instrument.

The “Symphony for Trombone and Orchestra”, a late work, could be described as having certain culinary associations with respect to the composer’s refined orchestrations. The use of unusual instruments such as the celeste gives the symphony certain similarities that dominated Hollywood’s film music during the 30ties. But Bloch had already employed this technique while he still was in Switzerland (in “Trois poèmes juifs” in 1913).

Fritz Brun (1878-1959)

Fritz Brun was one of the most important forces in Swiss musical life early in the 20th century. For more than three decades he was the director of the Berne Symphony Orchestra. During his years in Berne he actively championed contemporary Swiss music, performing and promoting works by composers such as Hermann Scherchen, Hermann Suter, Willy Burkhard, Arthur Honegger and Othmar Schoeck. The Brun residence in berne was a magnet for leading figures from literature and the visual arts.

Fritz Brun was born in Lucerne, studied piano and composition at the Cologne Conservatory. The intensive contact which he had at this time with the music of Brahms, Bruckner and Wagner was to have a lifelong lasting influence on his own compositional style. So in contrast to the modern compositions which he championed by his contemporary countrymen, Brun’s own works, particularly the early and middle ones, follow late romantic tendencies.

With regard to the 2nd symphony, Brun wrote in a letter to Hermann Scherchen in 1939 that: “It is inspired and filled with the joy of youth, the passion of love requited and unrequited, the love of nature and the beauty of my homeland”.
The symphony seems like an island of paradise. Signs of the volcano that would soon erupt throughout Europe are not to be found in this work.

Production information

Berne Symphony Orchestra. Kitajenko. Symphonically Swiss (1995). Musica Helvetica MH CD 86.2. Producedy for SRI by Patrick Linder.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR