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Cat. No. CHAN 10179 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10179 - Verhulst: Symphony in E minor
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Audio Sample

Available From: 08 March 2004
Several major Dutch cities have a Johannes Verhulst Street or Verhulst Square. Nevertheless, very few of their inhabitants realise the importance of the composer and conductor who reigned over Dutch musical life for some forty years.

Verhulst was a protégée of Mendelssohn’s and became musical director of Leipzig’s popular Euterpe concerts. The success of his compositions led to a knighthood from King Willem II and the position of Director of the Royal Music. Other prestigious directorships followed. His influence was tremendous: he familiarised Dutch audiences with the works of Schumann, Gade and Brahms; he had a great affinity for the music of Beethoven, setting a new standard for its performance; his international reputation was confirmed with an honorary membership, together with Liszt, Berlioz and Gade, awarded by London’s Royal Philharmonic Society.

As the years went on, however, his supreme rule met with increasing resistance, chiefly because his interests in programme-building extended little beyond the idioms of Mendelssohn and Schumann. He categorically refused to perform the works of Berlioz, Liszt, and his greatest bugbear, Richard Wagner. Both press and public protested more and more vociferously. In 1886 he was dismissed from his post as director of the music society Diligentia. Soon he withdrew from public life altogether, a bitter man.

Verhulst’s growing conservatism as a musical leader had a detrimental effect on the public’s appreciation of his own compositions, most of which he wrote before the age of thirty-five. In fact, it doomed his works to almost total obscurity for they have rarely been heard since his death. It is hoped that the present recording will go some way towards correcting this injustice.

'This disc is a winner on every point, and the sumptuous harmonies, memorable melodies, and exceptional advocacy combine to make this not only an aural work of art, but also a leading candidate for my Want List.'

This is enjoyable and cultivated music and is persuasively performed here, the Residentie Orchestra responging eagerly to Matthias Bamerts clear-sighted direction and ear for detail. The recording is excellent, as is Leo Samamas extensive booklet note. One wants now to explore Chandos previous issue of Verhulst, his Mass setting, Op. 20.


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