Krenek: Cello Concerto No. 1; Cello Concerto No. 2; Capriccio, Op. 145; Dyophonie; Suite for Solo Cello

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LABELS: Koch Schwann
WORKS: Cello Concerto No. 1; Cello Concerto No. 2; Capriccio, Op. 145; Dyophonie; Suite for Solo Cello
PERFORMER: David Geringas, Emil Klein (cello); Deutsches SO Berlin/Hanns-Martin Schneidt
CATALOGUE NO: 3-1078-2
Despite revived interest in such epoch-making works as the 1920s opera Jonny spielt auf!, Ernst Krenek’s mind-bogglingly large output of 250 opuses still awaits a balanced reappraisal. For a composer who pioneered so many of the 20th century’s stylistic preoccupations, from cool neo-Classicism to Schoenbergian expressionism, his music deserves to be better known. Yet Krenek’s personality remains curiously elusive, and his compositions, particularly those that employ 12-note technique, are regarded as obstinately inaccessible.


Fortunately the present release offers a useful entry point into the more abstruse areas of Krenek’s style. When writing for cello, the composer often embraced a more lyrical style, heard at its most eloquent in the slow movements of the unaccompanied Cello Suite of 1939. The very late Dyophonie for two cellos of 1988 also contains moments of lyrical repose which seem to look back almost nostalgically to the late-Romantic era. Of the Two Cello Concertos, the later work composed for David Geringas in 1982, strikes me as being the more arresting, covering a wide gamut of textures and emotions within a compact one-movement design. As far as one can tell, these German radio performances, recorded as long ago as 1990, sound extremely authoritative with Geringas proving to be highly committed to Krenek’s cause. Koch’s presentation, however, leaves something to be desired since details of individual movements are absent both from back of the liner notes and the CD box. Erik Levi