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German Composers Conduct Wagner, Egk, Schrecker, Künneke, Etc / Berlin Po, Et Al


Release Date: 11/11/2008 
Label:  Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog #: 9787   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Richard WagnerMax von SchillingsEduard KünnekeFranz Schreker,   ... 
Conductor:  Siegfried WagnerMax von SchillingsEduard KünnekeFranz Schreker,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera OrchestraBerlin Staatskapelle OrchestraBerlin Philharmonic Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



GERMAN COMPOSERS CONDUCT Eduard Künnecke, cond; 1 Franz Schreker, cond; 2 Max von Schillings, cond; 3 Werner Egk, cond; 4 Siegfried Wagner, cond; 5 Berlin PO; 1,2 Staatskapelle Berlin; Read more class="SUPER12">3 Paris Op O; 4 O der Staatsoper Berlin 5 DUTTON 9787 (74:48)


KÜNNECKE Dance Suite. 1 SCHREKER Little Suite. 2 SCHILLINGS Mona Lisa: Vorspiel; Serenade des Arrigo. 3 EGK Joan von Zarissa: Danse des mauresques; La couronnement; Plaintes d’Isabeau; La colère et l’enchantement d’Isabeau. 4 WAGNER Tristan und Isolde: Vorspiel und Liebestod 5


Yes, German composers in the early 20th century did conduct for the phonograph, but there’s a small catch: one of the five composers is not conducting his own music. Still, there’s a lot of interesting material on this release, from the sublime to the ridiculous.


Let’s start with the latter. Eduard Künneke’s Dance Suite dates from a time when most classical composers recognized the popularity of jazz, but few understood anything about it. Matters weren’t improved by white impresarios and nightclub owners who saw to it that their upper- and middle-class patrons got a jazz substitute as weak and derivative as the bootleg liquor they usually drank. Although written for broadcast by “jazz band and large orchestra” in 1929, this work draws upon the sound of these over-precise, non-jazz society bands rather than the kind of thing Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington had been doing since the early 1920s, or the Casa Loma Orchestra did with white musicians starting in 1927. So much for style: as to content, the clichés are rampant, and there’s nothing here to make the likes of Ellington or Gershwin lose sleep. Künneke does get very accurate playing out of the Berlin Philharmonic, with a nice, spacious acoustic for the date.


Not so, Schreker, two years later. For whatever reason, the same orchestra sounds far less rehearsed, the hall environment less resonant, more two-dimensional, and dead at the treble end. The work in question, the Little Suite , is shorn of its opening Praeludium that was part of the six-movement work initially broadcast in 1929. The remaining five are fascinating, however, documenting the composer’s move away from a harmonic and orchestral opulence that hits its climax in Die Gezeichneten (1915), Der Schatzgräber (1918), and Irrelohe (1923), and towards a more spare, neo-Classical model that incorporates crisp, linear counterpoint. The fugal entries of the scurrying Marcia are brilliantly scored, while the Canon is a stark exploration of bitonality, featuring the clarinet, both prefaced and concluded by a meditative hymn-like passage. The vigorous, clever Fughetto is followed by a sinuous but heavy Intermezzo that spotlights the clarinet and tenor saxophone. The concluding Capriccio pits a skittering theme on the upper strings against a menacing trumpet fanfare. Think of this work as an older, more serious cousin to the kind of thing Hindemith was doing at the same time, and you won’t be far wrong.


Schillings is represented on this release by a 1929 recording of a pair of orchestral selections from his 1915 operatic hit, Mona Lisa . The Vorspiel is crude but effective stuff, verismo with a smattering of Wagnerian harmonies. The “Serenade des Arrigo” is a sentimental but effective waltz that could have come out of the pages of Tchaikovsky. The engineering is more forward than in the Schreker, but less so than Künneke, with an airless quality about the top. Schillings, who was as much known for his skill on the podium as for his authoritarian ambitions, conducts very well, indeed.


Egk’s Joan von Zarissa was a Tanzspiel , or dancer’s play, not unlike Martin?’s Špalí?ek in that respect: a ballet that incorporated several spoken and/or sung numbers. It was premiered in 1940, and set in 16th-century Spain, where it told its version of the Don Juan story. This recording wasn’t made in Germany, where it was popular at the time, but in 1942 in occupied France, where Diaghilev’s former collaborator, Serge Lifar, tried to interest Parisian audiences. It’s pleasant if unmemorable stuff that could pass for a good but not great conventional film score of the period. Auric’s Belle et la bête is far better, if the four generous selections on this disc are anything to judge by. Egk conducts well, and the Paris Opera Orchestra delivers precise, incisive playing, especially in the final movement, “La colère et l’enchantement d’Isabeau.” The sound is understandably richer than in the earlier material on this album.


The disc concludes with Siegfried Wagner’s 1926 recording of the “Vorspiel und Liebestod” from his father’s Tristan und Isolde . Judging from the early electrical engineering, it’s passionate if cut reading inclined to lose its early spaciousness too quickly, and with good balance between sections.


Dutton has done its usual admirable job on these selections. There are few hints of wear, outside of a briefly reoccurring tick in the last number. Equalization has been applied throughout. The Künneke is only for the camp crowd, but the Schreker will, one hopes, raise awareness of this all-too-neglected composer once more. Recommended.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Siegfried Wagner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Germany 
Length: 7 Minutes 56 Secs. 
2.
Mona Lisa, Op. 31: Prelude by Max von Schillings
Conductor:  Max von Schillings
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1915; Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 4 Secs. 
3.
Mona Lisa, Op. 31: Serenade by Max von Schillings
Conductor:  Max von Schillings
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1915; Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 7 Secs. 
4.
Dance Suite: Overture by Eduard Künneke
Conductor:  Eduard Künneke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 7 Minutes 18 Secs. 
5.
Dance Suite: Blues by Eduard Künneke
Conductor:  Eduard Künneke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 5 Minutes 39 Secs. 
6.
Dance Suite: Intermezzo by Eduard Künneke
Conductor:  Eduard Künneke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 28 Secs. 
7.
Dance Suite: Valse Boston by Eduard Künneke
Conductor:  Eduard Künneke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 5 Minutes 29 Secs. 
8.
Dance Suite: Finale by Eduard Künneke
Conductor:  Eduard Künneke,  Max von Schillings
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 6 Minutes 59 Secs. 
9.
Little Suite by Franz Schreker
Conductor:  Franz Schreker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Berlin, Germany 
10.
Joan von Zarissa: Danse des mauresques by Werner Egk
Conductor:  Werner Egk
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; Berlin 
Length: 3 Minutes 35 Secs. 
11.
Joan von Zarissa: La couronnement by Werner Egk
Conductor:  Werner Egk
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; Berlin 
Length: 3 Minutes 59 Secs. 
12.
Joan von Zarissa: Palintes d'Isabeau by Werner Egk
Conductor:  Werner Egk
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; Berlin 
Length: 4 Minutes 19 Secs. 
13.
Joan von Zarissa: La colčre et l'enchantement d'Isabeau by Werner Egk
Conductor:  Werner Egk
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; Berlin 
Length: 4 Minutes 15 Secs. 

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