REVIEW OF RELATED SCHWERTSIK CD ABC
Across eighty minutes
playing time Oehms offer four major
orchestral works by Kurt Schwertsik.
is in five movements. A plungingly
headlong first movement is well marked
Sehr schnell und wild. The material
includes a marcato figure recalling
the fate motif from Beethoven 5 which
returns in the Übertürzt.
The Ruhiger ländler is a
slow limp-and-hop piece which transforms
into a super Mahlerian dance and then
melts into a surreal waltz. The strikingly
dreamy andantino marries the emotion
of Barber with Berg's rapt absorption
in beauty. The Geschwindmarsch
finale is in similar territory to Hindemith
in jolly mood but becomes increasingly
ruthless - a mood closer to that of
the first movement. The music is always
brilliant and when lively recalls a
is dedicated to Traudl and Fritz
Cerha. It was premiered by the artists
who made this recording in the Goldener
I mentioned Berg and
the silvery diaphany and glittering
mistiness of the Violin Concerto
No. 2 has somewhat in common with
the Berg concerto without quite the
same dodecaphonic element. It's a case
of Berg into Szymanowski 1 into Barber.
This is a saturated aspiringly romantic
piece but with orchestral textures kept
trim and not a note wasted. There are
some filmy fragile whistling birdsong
moments (3.35). The central panel is
a tango-inflected cadenza like 20th
century Paganini. The final allegro
is more of this earth than the
first movement. It is memorable for
its weaving of hand-clapping, a strong
Hispanic nocturnal flavour and a propulsive
Schuman-like line for the violin. Later
this momentum is dissipated although
it returns with its American metropolitan
intensity as the work pummels its way
to its final ‘punch’. Over and through
that sustained impact the violin silkily
ascends to the heights of the scale
and into silence. This is not so much
Nights in the Gardens of Spain as
nocturnal wanderings in the streets
of Granada. Albaycin and Sacromonte
are two districts in the city of
is a tense and worthy soloist throughout,
responding to the demands for ruthless
activity and to the less easily channelled
fantasy inherent in this Iberian work.
The Concerto was premiered
by the same artists in 2000 at the Klangspuren
Festival in Schwarz/Tyrol.
is in four fleetingly short
movements; none longer than two minutes.
Once again the orchestration is crystalline
but the material is full of life, ranging
from Pulcinella jocular to a
romantic sense of time and transience
in the Poco allegretto (tr. 11).
The wickedly witty Avanti is
Schwertsik-typical. The Beethoven ‘fate’
motif connects with Pulcinella-style
wind writing made emphatic by drum punctuation.
It ends in a confident gentle gesture
from the flute.
Schwertsik is the conductor
and speaker in Goldilocks -
a 33 minute fantasy with orchestra in
which the story is told from the podium.
The narration is of course in German
which is printed in Oehms' booklet but
without translation into English. The
work is based on Roald Dahl's Goldilocks
story and includes the darker side along
with charm and golden smiles.
The whole thing is
charming, speaking with a knowing adult
sensibility through chimes and sighs
about childhood things. The Einzugsmarsch
resembles nothing so much as the
start of Heldenleben held up
to a John Williams film score.
Schwertsik acts the
piece, drawing inventively on a wide
range of mood and colour.
Once again we hear
Schwertsik's petrol-driven ruthlessness
here for example in Böser Bärentanz
and Goldies Wut. The populist
dance element comes out in Goldlöckchens
Tückischer Tanz. The mood-range
and the sinister side are fully reflected;
listen to the whispered eldritch Tapiola
gale drawn from the strings in Ubelriechendes
Melodram. Schwertsik returns to
Viennese bombast as well as cheeriness
from time to time. He is closer to Haydn
and Mozart in the chittering and flute-lofted
affability of the Beratungsmusik.
No problems with the
recording which is detailed and gripping
and the notes are thorough.
This disc arrived within
twelve months of the ABC Classics'
Schwertsik CD. The two complement each
Schwertsik is a freewheeling
eclectic with an inventive line in synthesising
material. His music is smilingly fresh
and evinces a need to reach out to the
listener. He can be fascinating and
mesmerising even when his intention
is simply to entertain. Altogether very
well worth hearing. I suspect that you
will immediately want to replay that
superb Violin Concerto.