JEF VAN HOOF (1886-1959): Symphony No. 2 in A Flat, Perseus Overture, Remembrance Overture.
Catalogue Number: 08N001
Description: When the Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4 were first recorded and issued in 1986, there may not have been the intent to do a complete cycle. But, 25 years later, we have the fourth and final disc to complete it. The symphony dates from 1941 and is, I suppose, a "war symphony" but there is none of the fear, anger, struggle or suffering which are endemic to Soviet war symphonies or of the proud patriotism of American ones. (After all, Belgium was just occupied, not burned and raped almost to death like the USSR.) Its first movement (the longest at ten minutes) is meditative and a bit elegiac and there's a bit of darkness in the Adagio but there is an almost bright energy in the scherzo and the finale unexpectedly, in its final minute or so, ends with some optimism. The earlier works are a very colorful, heavily Wagner-influenced Perseus overture from 1908, just after van Hoof left the Conservatory; and a 1917 Remembrance Overture which is not an elegy for the war dead but rather a celebration piece for the 25th anniversary of the Flemish Opera. In fact, it seems to be a parody of militarism, stuffed with ironic references to various national anthems as well as the expected "home references" to Flemish folk songs. Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra, Ostrava; Ivo Venkov.