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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Franz Schreker - Orchestral Works Vol. 1 (Vassily Sinaisky)


Composer: Franz Schreker
  1. Prelude to a Drama (Vorspiel)
  2. Valse lente
  3. Ekkehard, symphonic overture, Op. 12
  4. Der Schatzgräber, opera: Symphonic Interlude
  5. Der Ferne Klang, opera: Nachstück
  6. Fantastic Overture, Op. 15

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Vassily Sinaisky, conductor

Date: 2000
Label: Chandos



Sumptuously performed and unflinchingly recorded, this collection will be seized on by Schreker enthusiasts, and they will enjoy every massively scored climax, every gorgeously coloured, embroidered and encrusted texture. Those who are only Schreker enthusiasts north-north-west may need to be warned that the climaxes are pretty frequent and that the textures are in constant flux. Listening to this programme uninterrupted is recommended only to addicts; others may wonder whether Schreker isn't repeating himself.

I have listened to this disc several times, and have heard several of the works in it in other performances, but in a musical quiz I could not guarantee readily to distinguish a climactic passage from the Prelude to a Drama from another in the Symphonic Interlude or the Nachtstuck. All are operatic preludes or entr'actes (from Die Gezeichneten, Der Schatzgraber and Der ferne Klang respectively), and all serve similar functions: to represent in a darkened auditorium erotic acts or emotions that could scarcely be represented on a stage. To hear all three in rapid succession is rather like listening to repeated performances of the Prelude to Der Rosenkavalier (much shorter than any of Schreker's pieces, but Strauss had only two climaxes to depict).

At least those pieces are punctuated by earlier, less heady things. The Valse lente is balletic light music, softly and delicately scored. Ekkehard is a tone-poem about a monk who falls in love with a Duchess and goes to war to defend her: each of these aspects has its own theme, and they are turbulently developed before a peaceful conclusion on Ekkehard's 'monastic' melody over a wonderfully palpable organ pedal. No programme is stated for the Fantastic Overture, but it approaches the three big dramatic pieces in richness and therefore perhaps in subject matter. Not many composers demand quite so much of a vast orchestra as Schreker, and Sinaisky and his orchestra both amply fulfil those demands and sound as though they are enjoying themselves enormously.

-- Michael Oliver, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: ****


Franz Schreker (23 March 1878 – 21 March 1934) was an Austrian composer, conductor, teacher and administrator. Although Schreker was influenced by composers such as Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner, his mature style shows a highly individual harmonic language. Schreker's fame and influence were at their peak during the early years of the Weimar Republic when he was the most performed living opera composer after Richard Strauss. After decades in obscurity, Schreker has begun to enjoy a considerable revival in reputation in the German-speaking world and in the United States.


Vassily Sinaisky (born in Abez, Komi Republic, April 20, 1947) is a Russian conductor and pianist. He studied conducting with Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatory and began his career as assistant to Kirill Kondrashin at the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1973, he won the Gold Medal at the Karajan Competition in Berlin. Sinaisky was Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic from 1996 until January 2012. He made several recordings with them for Chandos and now has the title of conductor emeritus.


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  2. Thanks for posting this austrian composer that I'm glad to discover !

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