Spectrum Concerts Berlin perform Chamber Music by Schulhoff

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COMPOSERS: Schulhoff
ALBUM TITLE: Schulhoff
WORKS: String Sextet; Violin Sonata No. 2; Duo for violin and cello; Cinq études de jazz
PERFORMER: Spectrum Concerts Berlin
CATALOGUE NO: 8.573525


Like many young creative artists in the 1920s, the Prague-born composer Erwin Schulhoff was attracted to an astonishingly wide array of musical styles. This fascinating release demonstrates the breadth of his interests in four strikingly contrasted works composed between 1924 and 1927. In the earliest of these, the String Sextet, Schulhoff explores a tough almost atonal language, which in its sharp juxtapositions of mood veers very much towards expressionism. Perhaps the most intriguing of its four movements is the second, a ghostly and brooding nocturne, which is projected here with a wonderful sense of mystery.

The Duo for Violin and Cello (1925), dedicated to Janácek, has an obviously Eastern European character, particularly in the irresistible and virtuosic ‘Zingaresca’ movement, whereas the Violin Sonata No. 2 (1927) leans more towards neo-Classicism in its outer movements, though Bartók’s influence is noticeable throughout. In complete contrast, the Cinq études de jazz is a set of brilliant showpieces for piano that respond with individuality and humour to the popular dance rhythms of the era.    

Enthusiasts for these works are somewhat spoilt for choice with high-voltage alternative version of the Duo from Julia Fischer and Daniel Müller-Schott (Orfeo) and the slightly better balanced recording of the Violin Sonata from Tanja Becker-Bender and Markus Becker (Hyperion). But the stellar soloists featured here certainly play the music with great conviction and the CD offers a good introduction to a prodigiously talented composer.


Erik Levi