WORKS: Prelude to a Drama; Valse lente; Ekkehard Overture; Symphonic Interlude from Der Schatzgräber; Nachtstück from Der ferne Klang; Fantastic Overture
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/Vassily Sinaisky
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9797
Performances of Franz Schreker’s operas are still scandalously rare (only Der ferne Klang has been staged in Britain), despite the crucial role they held in German opera of the first third of the 20th century and its late-Romantic last flowering, standing only second to Strauss in the number of performances they gained at the time. Yet we have been spoiled by recordings of them in recent years, and there are now several collections of overtures and other orchestral works. This new Chandos release is undoubtedly the best yet, certainly trumping the pioneering Marco Polo disc with the Slovak Philharmonic.
Pride of place on the disc goes to the Prelude to a Drama, effectively a suite from the opera Die Gezeichneten and full of the score’s most voluptuous passages. A similar, fraught emotional style characterises the interludes from Der Schatzgräber and Der ferne Klang – all are beautifully played and even the early, earnestly Lisztian Ekkehard emerges strongly.
The sound is not as open as in Chandos’s best recordings, with the result that some of the tuttis sound congested, though it manages an admirable transparency in, say, the coda to Ekkehard, with its gentle organ pedal. Matthew Rye