Switzerland is not a country that we associate with composers. Other than than Raff, we must wait until the 20th century and composers like Othmar Schoeck, Les Six’s Honegger and Frank Martin in order to find familiar names. So it was with interest to discover this fourth disc in an ongoing series devoted to the symphonic repertoire of Fritz Brun – a Lucerne-raised musician who may be Switzerland’s finest twentieth-century symphonist, writing between 1902 and his death in 1959 ten well constructed if conservatively Romantic symphonies in the style of Brahms.
The English label Guild has finally taken the opportunity to record a complete traversal of his major works with six of his ten symphonies already released. Symphony No 1 – a prize winning student work – whilst bringing up suggestions of Brahms also hints at Tchaikovsky, Wagner and Bruckner with the large forces of the Moscow Symphony relishing the attractive qualities of this large-scale tonal work.
The Swiss conductor – simply known as Adriano – certainly knows the full worth of this symphony as with the others by this composer already recorded. By contrasting the early symphony with the much later Overture (from 1950), it is obvious that Brun had developed his writing style early. Sound is a bit rough, though it admirably captures the thick textures of these Romantic compositions.