New releases

Symphonies no. 3, 6 and ‘Die Alpen’ by Swiss composer Joseph Lauber (1964 – 1952)

Even more astonishing symphonies to discover! World premiere recording.

On this second volume of Schweizer Fonogramm’s Lauber Cycle, the Sinfonie Orchester Biel Solothurn and their chief conductor Kaspar Zehnder carry on the re-discovery of the symphonic work by this pianist, conductor, composer and composition teacher of Frank Martin. With the 3rd Symphony and the symphonic suite ‘Die Alpen’ from 1896/97, Lauber shows a compositional mastery perfectly balanced in craft, sentiment and energy. While the Third, composed in the year of Bruckner’s death, aspires to all the pretensions of symphonic confessional music with a romantic glow, in ‘Die Alpen’ he deliberately uses Helvetic folk songs and even inserts Switzerland’s former national anthem in the finale…With the 6th Symphony, written nearly 50 years and two world wars later, Lauber hesitantly enters the neoclassical territory and reflects on his long artistic life in an surprising, film-music-like way. The recording was made in December 2020 at the Menuhin Forum Bern under the artistic recording direction of Frédéric Angleraux/ ADCSound.

Kurt Leimer and Richard Strauss – two concerts for piano (left-hand) and orchestra

Virtuosity and gestures of friendship - Gilles Vonsattel, piano, Berner Symphonieorchester, Mario Venzago, conductor

After almost 70 years since the first recording by the composer himself under the direction of Herbert von Karajan, Schweizer Fonogramm presents a new recording of the Piano Concerto (Left-Hand) by Kurt Leimer (1920 – 1974). The highly talented pianist, later Mozarteum lecturer and internationally renowned virtuoso, was taken prisoner during World War II, came into contact with jazz music there and finally wrote his Piano Concerto for the Left Hand Alone for a colleague who had been injured in the war (the orchestration being supoorted by the conductor Kurt Overhoff). The stylistically versatile concerto in one movement  combines numerous elements between romanticism, impressionism and Music Hall with an almost superhumanly difficult one-hand pianism and places the highest demands on the interpretation, not only in terms of craftsmanship but also in terms of fantasy and dialogue between soloist and orchestra. The context between virtuosity and wartime injury, this time in relation to the First World War, also characterizes the genesis of the Panathenäenzug op. 74 by Richard Strass (1927), who dedicated the work to the pianist Paul Wittgenstein (who suffered from the loss of his right arm ). When the elder composer heard the young Kurt Leimer play the Panathenäenzug in the 1940s, he was delighted with the latter’s playing and allowed a few adjustments in the solo part by the soloist, which found their way into the present recording. The studio recording took place under Covid 19 protection conditions in Bern in September 2020; the two solo parts taken by Swiss-American pianist Gilles Vonsattel. With the generous support of the Kurt Leimer Foundation.