The music of Franz Schreker fell into neglect after
his death but has enjoyed something of a revival in recent years. Several
of his operas and orchestral works are now available on CD, a number
of them on the enterprising Marco Polo label.
The earliest piece included here is the Ekkehard
Overture, which dates from 1902, and which is based on a nineteenth
century romantic novel set in tenth century Germany. The non-programmatic
Fantastic Overture followed a year later. The remaining items
are drawn from Schrekerís operatic output during the period 1913 to
1920. Das Spielwerk was originally conceived in 1913 though revised
in 1916. It was followed by Die Gezeichneten ("The Doomed")
in 1914. The latest of these operas was Der Schatzgräber (The
Treasure-Seeker). All this information, and much more, is contained
in the very good notes by Keith Anderson which accompany this release.
Although I havenít seen any scores all these pieces
sound to be lavishly orchestrated. That, I think, is something of a
problem for on the evidence of this collection I donít think Schreker
was as discriminating an orchestrator as, say Mahler or Richard Strauss.
Too much of the scoring is thick and Schreker fails to provide sufficient
contrast by lightening his textures. I must also report that there seems
little in the way of genuine thematic originality here. It all sounds
a bit ponderous and earth-bound.
Having said that, Edgar Seipenbusch and his players
are enthusiastic advocates of Schreker and the whole programme is played
with commitment even if the last degree of refinement is missing. The
recordings are satisfactory, if a bit studio-bound. Others may well
respond to the music more positively than I have and certainly at the
Naxos price this issue is worth investigating.