Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 9
Sound Quality: 9
Franz Schreker didn’t write that much free-standing orchestral music, which is a pity because what we have is gorgeous. Most of it has some connection to the stage, either opera or ballet, and by now it seems that the majority of it has been recorded, sometimes multiple times. Still, it will be good to have a systematic series of new recordings so we can figure out once and for all exactly what “Orchestral Works” means in this case. There could well be some additional bits or extracts from the operas as yet unheard in concert versions, and I for one am quite curious to see what turns up.
Steven Sloane has made a specialty of performing big, neglected late romantic orchestral extravaganzas, and this repertoire fits squarely in his wheelhouse. The First Symphony is not, in fact, all that ambitious. It stands out for the beauty of its orchestral textures (using conventional forces), and Schreker seems never to have composed the finale–or if he did, it’s missing. The Intermezzo features typically warm and attractive string writing, while the Festwalzer und Waltzerintermezzo is an amiable bit of fluff. Valse lente, on the other hand, is a seductive, hot-house flower of a piece, enchantingly scored, and the luminously mellifluous suite from The Birthday of the Infanta is by now almost a repertory item.
All of the performances here do the music proud, and cpo’s engineering is typically clear and natural. I look forward to future releases in this new series, and you can start collecting with confidence.
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: None for this coupling
- SCHREKER, FRANZ:Symphony No. 1; Intermezzo, Op. 8; Festwalzer und Walzerintermezzo; Valse lente; Suite from "The Birthday of the Infante"