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Friedrich SCHENKER (born 1942)
Flötensinfonie (1976)
Werner Tast (flute)
Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Leipzig/Wolf-Dieter Hauschild
Recorded: Bethanienkirche, Leipzig, February 1980
BERLIN CLASSICS 0013042BC [40:40]


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Friedrich Schenker’s large-scale Flötensinfonie ("Flute Symphony") was written at the suggestion of the present soloist who premièred it in 1978. The title of the work clearly reminds one of Britten’s Cello Symphony or of some older models such as Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, Szymanowski’s Fourth Symphony or d’Indy’s Symphonie Cévenole - all concertante pieces in which the soloist plays an important part without really stealing the show, if I may put it a bit bluntly. Truth to tell: the solo parts in these pieces are all rather demanding and virtuosic, though they are an integral part of the musical discourse rather than an outsider competing with the orchestra.

Schenker’s Flötensinfonie is no exception. The first movement Allegro moderato, though, is a fairly virtuoso piece of music displaying an often capricious solo part confronted by a similarly nervous, at times skittish orchestral part. It alternates highly virtuosic solo passages and calmer episodes. The prevalent mood, however, is one of restless unease. The second movement Grave is a slow processional of Mahlerian intensity. The histrionics of the first movement are now largely put aside for most of this long movement. Agility nevertheless returns halfway through the movement in an orgiastic Dithyrambe II at first recalling the capricious mood of the first movement and in which the orchestra abruptly strikes up a raucous, rather ramshackle, heavy-footed Marcia di Prussia which the soloist tries to counter by calling-up all his/her resources. But in vain, for with ever-mounting stubborn intensity, the orchestra silences the soloist. All that can be done then, is to restate the Grave material which leads into the long final cadenza "In modo di rituale" which peacefully concludes the piece.

Schenker’s Flötensinfonie is unquestionably a substantial and weighty piece of music, though a rather demanding one, that only yields its secrets on repeated hearings, but it is well worth the effort. A welcome release though a bit short in terms of playing time. I wonder whether it would not have been possible to rescue some other work by Schenker from the Nova archives.

Hubert Culot


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