Alexander Voormolen (1895-1980, Dutch)

Alexander Voormolen was a composition pupil of Johan Wagenaar in Utrecht, and of Albert Roussel and Maurice Ravel in Paris. With Baron Hop Suites, Concerto for Two Oboes, Eline. Residentie Orchestra The Hague, Mathias Bamert. Chandos 9815 (2000), he is also an installment in the series from Chandos with the Residentie Orchestra of the Hague featuring little-known Dutch composers from the 19th century or straddling 19th and 20th, Johannes Verhulst (1816-1891), Richard Hol (1825-1904), Alphons Diepenbrock (1862-1921), Cornelis Dopper (1870-1939), Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967).

A discovery is always welcome, but there is nothing particularly revelatory in the music of Vermoolen there: it veers between the lighter and fluffier side of “musique française” – Sauguet and Auric more than Roussel –, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Hollywood-Broadway, when not the romantic style of Ludwig Spohr or the serve-all-purpose style of Leon Minkus’s ballets.

I’ve also heard and reviewed Voormolen’s Sinfonia from 1939, in the recording of the premiere performance by the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra led by Willem Mengelberg in 1940, The Mengelberg Edition vol. 13: Voormolen, Dopper. Archive Documents ADCD 119 (2001). All amends made for the live 1940 sonics preserved on acetates, it seems to confirm the impression derived from the Chandos CD. The CD from Archive Documents pairs the Sinfonia with two works by Cornelis Dopper, written 20 years before: but they sound stylistically as advanced (which, even for 20 years before, isn’t particularly advanced) as Voormolen’s work.

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