"The flautist Fenwick Smith whose adventuresome discography includes premiere recordings of works by Copland, Ginastera, Koechlin, Schoenberg, Gaubert, Harbison, Cage and Reinecke retired from the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2006 after twenty-eight distinguished years with that institution. With his Boston Symphony Orchestra career behind him, Smith has taken on an expanded teaching commitment at the Conservatory.
The repertoire in this recording features two innovative jewish composers - Erwin Schulhoff and Arnold Schoenberg - who persued widely differing musical styles - and who met very different fates. The three pieces performed here were completed by August 1924 and March 1927. They are not particularly Jewish in style, but are rather more reflective of the era in which they were written.
Schulhoff was born in Prague to a wealthy Jewish family. A prodigy, he began piano studies at the Prague Conservatory at the urging of Dvorak. In 1923 he settled in Germany, where he was receptive to the musical influences then current - principally jazz, neoclassicism and Dadaism. By the kate 1930’s, Schulhoff had returned to Prague, whcih was an increasingly perilous city for Jews. He was deported to the Wulzberg concentration camp in the winter of 1941, where he died of tuberculosis. Smith and Hodkinson here perform Schulhoff’s Flute Sonata and Concertino. The instrumentation of the Concertino is unique: flute doubling piccolo, viola and contrabass and the result is a fine rustic work, described by Schulhoff as "Moravian seller of shepherds’ flutes in the streets of Prague."
These two rarely performed works are coupled with the rarely recorded transcription of Schoenberg’s Sonata for Wind Quintet, Op 26 by Felix Greissle. The Quintet was Schoenberg’s first strict twelve-tone composition. Fenwick Smith corresonded with Greissle when preparing the Sonata for performance and recording.
Fenwick Smith is here accompanied by Randall Hodkinson. Both artists make their debut with Chandos with this recording.