Swiss composer Hans Huber (1852-1921) must have loved weddings. Both his First and Seventh Symphonies contain scherzos marked “in slow wedding march tempo” and “peasant wedding procession” respectively, and this fact does indeed reveal something of the music’s sweet, unchallenging character. The First Symphony, subtitled “Tell” (as in “William”) recalls Dvorák, and it has plenty of charm if not an overwhelmingly powerful character; but the tunes are good and the orchestration skillful. No. 7 (“The Swiss”) has movement titles that not surprisingly involve mountains, and it’s a more substantial and clearly more advanced (though still firmly harmonically consonant) work. The orchestration has expanded to include much more confident use of winds (piccolos especially), brass (often muted), and percussion, and the result has a cinematic sweep with scarcely a dull moment. It’s very much worth hearing.
Jörg-Peter Weigle and the Stuttgart Philharmonic turn in fine performances of these obscure pieces, and they convey the bravura writing in the outer movements of Symphony No. 7 with the necessary energy and conviction. Sterling’s recording also sounds excellent, with a firm bottom and a nice, bright top to catch the brilliant skirling piccolos that contribute such a memorable glint of color to Symphony No. 7’s sonic landscape. If you’re looking for well-crafted, harmonically comfortable, but consistently and enjoyably listenable Romantic music of the German school, give this a shot. You won’t be sorry.