Salomon Jadassohn – a Late Romantic Rediscovered

Salomon Jadassohn is better known as a teacher than a composer. While at the Leipzig Conservatory he taught Edward Grieg, Ferruccio Busoni, and Frederick Delius, just to name a few. As a composer, he completed over 140 compositions.

This release features his four Serenades for Orchestra, along with his first symphony and first piano concerto.

According to the liner notes, Jadassohn “was acknowledged to be a master of counterpoint and harmony, but he was also a gifted melodist in the tradition of Mendelssohn. His works show too the influence of Wagner and Liszt, whose music deeply impressed him.”

After listening to these works, I can agree with some — but not all — of those assertions. Jadasssohn studied with Franz Liszt, and that influence can be heard in his 1887 piano concerto. But the Symphony No. 1 in C major seems to owe more to Schumann and Weber than Wagner. It’s a nicely constructed work, with plenty of engaging melodic motifs.

The Serenades are lighter works, and I think they’re the most successful of the selections. These are light, breezy pieces that revel in their flowing melodies. It’s easy to hear Mendelssohn in these, especially in the Second Serenade.

The First Serenade, a set of four canons, displays Jadassohn’s mastery of counterpoint. Some music historians have characterized Jadassohn’s music as dry and academic. I didn’t find that the case, even in these contrapuntal gems.

My only complaint with the release is the release itself. This reissue was cobbled together from some earlier albums, and sometimes the seams show. The Piano Concerto is a live recording, with a sound quality that’s inferior to the other tracks.

The Serenades were all recorded with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra in the same venue, though with different conductors — Michael Laus and Marius Stravinsky. Stravinsky conducts a different ensemble — the Belarussian State Symphony Orchestra — in the performance of the Symphony No.1. I found these differences in the sound from piece to piece a little distracting.

Still, this mid-priced compilation is worth the investment. This is well-written music that can provide hours of enjoyment. Brahms, Wagner, and Liszt were the giants of their age, and Jadassohn stood behind them. But he still was tall enough to peek over their shoulders.

Salomon Jadassohn: Orchestral Works
Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 24 – Belarussian State Symphony Orchestra; Marius
Stravinsky, conductor
Serenade for flute and strings Op. 80 – Rebecca Hall, flute; Malta Philharmonic
Orchestra; Michael Laus, conductor
Serenade No. 2 in D Op. 46 – Malta Philharmonic Orchestra; Marius Stravinsky,
Serenade No. 3 in A major, Op. 47 – Malta Philharmonic Orchestra; Michael Laus,
Serenade No. 1 in 4 Canons, Op. 42 – Malta Philharmonic Orchestra; Marius
Stravinsky, conductor
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor Op. 89 – Valentina Seferinova, piano; Karelia
State Symphony Orchestra; Denis Vlasenko, conductor
Cameo Classics CC9101
2 CD Set

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