Franz Lachner well served by Evergreen Symphony Orchestra

The Evergreen Symphony Orchestra (ESO) is a 70-piece Taiwanese ensemble. They’ve recorded eight albums for the CPO label. Although “evergreen” is in their name, none of the music they record would earn that title.

But that’s not due to the quality of the music, just the stature of the composers. Franz Lachner was a respected 19th Century composer and conductor. He conducted the Theater am Kärntnertor and was a friend of Franz Schubert. Lachner’s style shows traces of both Beethoven and Schubert.

His Symphony No. 6 in D major was published in 1837. It followed on the heels of his successful fifth symphony. That work won a composition contest and helped establish Lachner’s reputation. Symphony No. 6 has a lighter touch, hewing closer to Schubert’s symphonic aesthetic.

Lachner’s more disciplined than his friend, though. The lyrical melodies charm and engage. But the form is also clearly delineated. There’s a feeling of high spirits throughout the work. Some of that may be the performances Gernot Schmalfuss and the ESO gives these pieces. There’s some enthusiastic music-making going on with these young performers!

The Concertino for Bassoon and Orchestra was completed in 1824. Lachner seems inspired by Beethoven, especially with his use of motives. The dotted rhythmic figures tie the piece together even as they expand and develop.

Chia-Hua Hsu is the principal bassoonist for the ESO. Hsu’s interpretation sounded fluid and improvisational, but never out of control. His performance was simply first-rate.

These may not be evergreen pieces, but in the ESO’s care, they sound pretty fresh to me.

Franz Lachner: Symphony No. 6 Op. 56 in D major
Concertino for Bassoon and Orchestra in E-flat major
Chia-Hua Hsu, bassoon
Evergreen Symphony Orchestra; Gernot Schmalfuss, conductor
CPO 555-210-2

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