Notes and Editorial Reviews
Concertino for Flute, Viola, and Double Bass. Flute Sonata. String Sextet
András Adorján (fl); Walter Küssner (va); Klaus Stoll (db); Yumiko Urabe (pn); Berlin P Str Sxt
KLASSIK AUS BERLIN! 06004 (72:39)
Live: Munich 12/5–6/2009
The 1925 Concertino begins with an Andante con moto in Schulhoff’s most mysterious vein; the
kicks in with a bright, chipper outburst that vies with and dissolves into the opening material. A wild, perky Furiant follows. Another Andante returns to the soft, gentle mystery, and the piece closes with a bright Rondino of widely varied spirits. The odd instrumental combination (flute alternating with piccolo) works beautifully; Schulhoff finds new colors, new harmonies, without approaching the bounds of tonality. How could anyone
love this music?
The 1927 Flute Sonata could be Poulenc on speed, except that Schulhoff—as usual—anticipates music of the future, in this case 1952. As with the Concertino, the Sonata is in four movements, such structure being perhaps the only conventional aspect of Schulhoff’s music.
The 1924 String Sextet is one of Schulhoff’s most serious works, an opposite side of his musical personality. Its agonized, devastating Allegro risoluto comes as a shock after the pleasantries of the Flute Sonata, its bitonalities stretching harmony as far as he ever would. For once, Schulhoff looks back, to the Mahler of the Ninth Symphony. A Tranquillo (Andante) offers little relief from the grim mood, and a chugging Burlesca buries us in a chaotic emotional realm suggesting late Shostakovich and even Schnittke. The finale, Molto Adagio, becomes almost static in its dry despair, as if abandoning all hope.
These are three of Schulhoff’s most popular compositions, each having been recorded more than a half-dozen times. The ferocity and depth of the Berliners’ live performance make the Schönberg Quartet on Koch and even the Pražák/Kocian on a Praga multichannel SACD sound timorous. The latter group compensates by generating some gorgeous sonorities, which now seem inappropriate for this music. The close-up, almost claustrophobic Berlin recorded sound draws us deeper into the vortex. The playing in the lighter works is distinguished if not highly polished, which may or may not be an asset, according to your tastes.
I recommend you seize the opportunity to acquire these three marvelous works on one CD. Its title is
Erwin Schulhoff: Brückenbauer in die Neue Zeit.
FANFARE: James H. North
Works on This Recording
Sonata for Flute and Piano by Erwin Schulhoff
Yumiko Urabe (Piano),
András Adorján (Flute)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1927; Prague, Czech Republ
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