Schreker: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2: Vorspiel zu einer grossen Oper; Prelude to Das Spielwerk; Romantic Suite; Five Songs

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COMPOSERS: Schreker
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2: Vorspiel zu einer grossen Oper; Prelude to Das Spielwerk; Romantic Suite; Five Songs
PERFORMER: Katarina Karnéus (mezzo-soprano); BBC Philharmonic/Vassily Sinaisky
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9951
The Schreker revival continues apace and gradually the glories of this late-Romantic contemporary of Zemlinsky and Schoenberg (his music is closer to the former than the latter) are impinging on the imagination of promoters and public alike.

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This excellently played and conducted disc is a very welcome follow-up to Sinaisky’s first volume of Schreker’s orchestral works, also with the BBC Philharmonic, issued last year. There is a certain amount of duplication with the EMI disc from James Conlon and the Gürzenich Orchestra, namely in the Vorspiel zu einer grossen Oper and the Romantic Suite. The ‘Grand Opera’ in question was Memnon, an ambitious project Schreker did not live to complete, while the Romantic Suite is an earlier work (1903), one of whose movements, the Intermezzo, was published as a separate piece. Conlon omitted the Intermezzo, and it is true that its scoring for strings alone marks it off from the rest of the suite, but Sinaisky’s passionate advocacy justifies its inclusion here.

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The Five Songs for low (or middle) voice and orchestra date from in between those two works, representing the first fruits of Schreker’s maturity, their harmonic daring perhaps reflecting his recent acquaintance with Schoenberg. Katarina Karnéus brings a sultry tone and ideally ardent delivery to these wonderfully decadent songs.