Schreker, Strasfogel

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COMPOSERS: Schreker,Strasfogel
LABELS: Capriccio
WORKS: Chamber Symphony; Franz Schreker-Heft (arr. Strasfogel)
PERFORMER: Kolja Lessing (piano)
The idea of Franz Schreker’s music shorn of its luxuriant orchestral garb might at first seem self-defeating, but that is to ignore the skill with which his pupil Ignaz Strasfogel encapsulated his distinctive sound-world in his arrangements for piano. The Franz Schreker Book comprises six of the composer’s most popular passages from his stage works, arranged in 1926 for a concert series in Berlin. That was when Strasfogel was barely 17. Two years earlier he had dazzled his master by producing out of the blue a fully formed piano transcription of Schreker’s major instrumental work, the 1916 Chamber Symphony for 23 players. Not much earlier, his own compositional skills were already very much in evidence in the precociously assertive little Scherzo No. 1, the work that opens this disc played by Kolja Lessing. Lessing is a particularly telling advocate for the music of this ‘lost generation’, figures sent into exile or, worse, to the death-camps, by the Nazis (Schreker died a broken man a year after Hitler came to power; Strasfogel died in New York in 1994). The piano is recorded a little close, perhaps, but the warmth of Lessing’s response to this music is never in doubt. Matthew Rye