BOEHE: Tragic Overture, Op. 10.  From Odysseus' Voyages (Episodes 1-3).
Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orch/Werner Andreas Albert, cond.
cpo 999 875 (F) (DDD) TT:  74:29

Why has this gorgeous music been neglected to date?  There are no listings in the final Schwann/Opus for German-born Ernst Boehe (1880-1938).  If you enjoy big-scale, richly-textured orchestral music you'll surely find much of interest here. Born in Munich into a family of military officers, Ernst Boehe studied harmony, piano, counterpoint and composing and soon began writing songs, chamber music and large orchestral pieces.  A recognized conductor, he led countless performances of his music in Europe and America although no details are given of his American activities.  Richard Strauss was a friend and admirer, praising Boehe's development of the State Symphony Orchestra for the Palatinate and the Saarland (which he assumed leadership of in 1920, an ensemble that later became the Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic heard on this recording), saying "it will always be a joy for me to concertize with this well-disciplined and superbly led orchestra." 

Boehe's music is beautifully orchestrated with sumptuous textures, glowing horns, broad romantic themes - and you may hear similarities to works of Korngold and Strauss.  There is a passionate flow to much of this music, with splendid climaxes and many interludes of quiet introspection - and never a dull moment.  Tragic Overture, Op. 10 is primarily a lengthy (18:38) funeral march of impressive power.  The featured work is Boehe's setting of three of his four episodes from the epic story of Odysseus, written from 1903-05. The titles are Departure and Shipwreck, The Island of Circe and The Lament of Nausicaa.  The final movement, about a half-hour in length, would not have fit on the CD even if producers hadn't included the Tragic Overture.  As this disk is identified as Volume I, the remaining section will be "served up later" as the rather charming program notes say. 

Boehe's music clearly depicts the adventures of Odysseus, his battles, adventures and loves with some highly sensuous interludes for the latter.  Performances are outstanding (remember that the orchestra is the one that the composer worked with beginning about eight decades ago).  Werner Andreas Albert already has to his credit fine cpo recordings of works of Korngold, Pfitzner, Hindemith and several other composers - he obviously cherishes Boehe's music making a strong case for it.  The recording, supervised by GŁnter Appenheimer, is outstanding in its richness, dynamic range and solid bass.  Highly recommended, and I look forward to future releases in the series.

R.E.B. (January 2003)