> Franz Schreker [JQ]: Classical CD Reviews- July2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Franz SCHREKER (1878-1934)
Ekkehard Overture, Op. 12 [12.06]*
Fantastic Overture [10.34]*
Interlude from Der Schatzgräber, Act 3 [13.00]**
Prelude to Die Gezeichneten [9.31]***
Prelude to Das Spielwerk [5.53]***
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edgar Seipenbusch
Recorded in the Concert Hall of the Slovak Philharmonic *16 November 1985, **24 July 1987í ***9 November 1986
First released as Marco Polo 8.220392
NAXOS 8.555246 [51.05]


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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.

John Quinn

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