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Cat. No. CHAN 9797 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9797 - Schreker: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1
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Available From: 17 February 2000
Born in Austria in 1878, Schreker studied the violin and composition at the Vienna Conservatory between 1892 and 1900. His first work to receive a public performance was Love Song for string orchestra and harp, which the Budapest Opera performed in London in 1896. In 1908 Schreker’s music had its first great success when his ballet Der Geburtstag der infantin was danced. On the strength of his growing reputation he was appointed composition teacher at the Music Academy in Vienna in 1912, then in 1920 he was offered directorship of the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. His fame peaked during his time at the Hochschule due largely to the prestige of the position.



Schreker’s Valse lente was composed for the dancer Elsa Wiesenthal around 1908. Although musically slight, its delicate and refined orchestration – it is scored for chamber orchestra – makes it a perfect dance score. Little of Schreker’s earlier output can have prepared the Viennese public for his Nachstück. First performed in 1909, it caused a scandal which made Schreker one of the leading ‘ultra-modern’ composers. It was intended to form the orchestra interlude between the two scenes of Act III of his as yet unfinished opera Der ferne Klang (The Distant Sound).

The first of the earlier works on this disc, the Symphonic Overture Ekkehard, Op. 12 (1902-3) is based on a novel by Viktor von Scheffel. In a style that recalls Liszt and early Wagner, it does not attempt to evoke the story in detail. Although it is an attractive piece it does not exhibit particular originality. A considerable advance is displayed by the Fantastic Overture, Op. 15, which was completed in 1904 although not performed until 1912, by which time the Austrian public had already experienced Schreker’s mature style in Nachtstück. It too begins with a slow introduction , but rhythmic flexibility, greater contrapuntal interest, and colourful orchestration abound.

The ‘Prelude to a Drama’, was written in 1913, ahead of the completion of Schreker’s opera Die Gezeichneten (The Marked Ones). It is in ternary form, the middle section being the Act III interlude, which is omitted in the version used as the prelude to the opera itself. The enormous orchestra is used with the utmost virtuosity. His next opera was his most successful – Der Schatzgrüber (The Treasure Seeker). The interlude describes a night of love in a stream of musical eroticism of an intensity rarely encountered in opera since Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.
Reviews

"This sequence of six pieces presents a good cross-section of his output, demonstrating Schreker’s development ... Schreker had a wonderful sense of fantasy, a feeling for colour, and impressive mastery of the orchestra. The textures are lush and overheated. Sinaisky draws seductively beautiful playing from the BBC Philharmonic, heightened by gloriously rich Chandos sound, and the whole disc serves to advance Schreker’s case."
The Penguin Guide - 1000 Greatest Classical Recordings 2011-12

Sumptuous late-Romantic music performed with tremendous passion and intensity by Sinaisky and the BBC Philharmonic in resplendent Chandos sound. More than any previous interpreters, Sinaisky succeeds in harnessing the ebb and flow of Schreker’s musical invention with greater conviction, finally persuading the sceptics that this composer deserves serious consideration alongside his Viennese contemporaries Schoenberg, Zemlinsky and Berg.
BBC Music Magazine Critic's Choice

The BBC Philharmonic’s playing is warmly expansive, and the recording captures every nuance of the ever-changing textures
The Guardian

 

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