PERFORMER: Andreas Schmidt (baritone)Musikkollegium Winterthur/Werner Andreas Albert
CATALOGUE NO: 999 472-2
In his day, the Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck (1886-1957) was regarded as the greatest living Lieder composer, the heir to Hugo Wolf. Given the quality of the present song cycle, it is surprising that he has since fallen so out of favour. Written in 1923, Elegie proved to be the last work in his more conservative, late-Romantic style. A setting of 24 poems by Joseph von Eichendorff and Nikolaus Lenau, it is the narrative of a dying love, written in the twilight months of a tawdry and tortuous love affair in Schoeck’s own life, the fear of whose termination seems to have been the spur.
It is a work, then, that should come with a health warning for anyone of an emotionally sensitive disposition. The mood is autumnal, dark and tormented, the pace largely measured. But there is no lack of variety in Schoeck’s luminous instrumentation for chamber orchestra, with his accompaniments adapting Wolf’s favoured device of ostinato to create a miniature drama out of each song. The German baritone Andreas Schmidt is an inspired interpreter, evoking the quiet desperation and resignation of the texts and music. The Winterthur orchestra accompanies with playing of great character and power. Matthew Rye