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Othmar SCHOECK (1886-1957)
Two Songs;
Peregrina II Op.17/4 [5.34]
An meine Mutter Op.14/1 [1.58]
Elisabeth Gehri (soprano)
Othmar Schoeck (piano)
Seven Spring Songs [14.05]
Die Natur Op.52/5 [0.55]
Der Frühling Op.52/6 [1.09]
Der Kirchlof im Frühling Op.17/3 [2.32]
Frühlingsfeier Op.15/3 [1.49]
Frühlingsblick Op.5/3 [2.33]
Frühlingsruhe Op.20/4 [2.07]
Frühlingsglaube Op.55/18 (1941-43) [2.52]
Silvia Gähwiller (soprano)
Othmar Schoeck (piano)
Three Songs from Der Sänger Op.57 (1945)
Spruch Op.57/24 [0.33]
Der Waldsee Op.57/20 [3.46]
Trinklied Op.57/22 [0.50]
Ernst Haefliger (tenor)
Othmar Schoeck (piano)
Four Songs from Das Holder Bescheiden Op.62 (1947-49)
Auf einen Klavierspieler Op.62/31 [1.58]
Mein Fluss Op.62/9 [4.34]
Restauration Op.62/32 [1.13]
Besuch in Urach Op.62/40 [17.11]
Hilde Schoeck (soprano)
Othmar Schoeck (piano)
Two Arias from the singspiel Erwin und Elmire Op.25 (1911-16)
Mit vollen Atemzügen [4.20]
Sieh mich, Heilíger, wie ich bin [4.25]
Annette Joel-Brun (soprano)
Radio Orchester Beromünster
Jean-Marie Auberson
Historical performances from 1942 to 1960
JECKLIN JD 714-2 [74.00]

Firstly let me say that there is one absolute masterpiece here, the setting of Der Kirchlof im Frühling from the Seven Spring Songs. Itís cast as a kind of Passacaglia, somewhat reminiscent of Sammartini, and shows some kinship with the Bach Chaconne from the Second Partita. Its impact is quite overwhelming and if the vocal line might be thought somewhat independent of the piano part Schoeck very subtly ensures that harmonically they draw together at graphic cadential points. I have to admit Iíve played little else recently except this brief two and a half minute setting. The performance was given in 1953 by Silvia Gähwiller with the composer as accompanist, a role he performs throughout this disc of historic performances from the archives. Itís another in Jecklinís really outstanding series devoted to Schoeck and will be a place of pilgrimage for admirers of the composerís lieder. There is an extensive collection of his lieder in contemporary performances on this label but this is something altogether different.

Gähwiller is one of a number of Schoeck singers to be captured on these rare live discs. First chronologically we have Elisabeth Gehri on some rather worn sounding acetates from 1942. The voice is somewhat backward in the first song and there is indeed some blasting on high notes but the second song is better focused and balanced, its Wagnerian inheritance clearly evident. Itís doubly valuable to have this as the soprano had to retire shortly afterwards following a serious illness.

The Gähwiller songs date from later but are much more boxily recorded, presumably on tape. She is an adept singer, maybe a touch hard but capable of verdancy, which is just as well in these nature settings Ė and of course she is excellent in Der Kirchlof im Frühling. We are immediately onto a real hero of the Schoeck discography, the Swiss Ernst Haefliger. His contribution is brief Ė three songs of which only one is substantial - but itís enough to grant us the chance to hear his fresh voice, forward and generous, and the exquisitely controlled head voice he floats in Der Waldsee. Thereís some scratch on these 1946 acetates.

Schoeckís wife Hilde joins him for Four Songs from Das Holder Bescheiden. Of these Jecklin has already issued the very long Besuch in Urach but it makes more sense in this context. Thereís some bad mechanical hum in these 1951 performances and a recessed sound quality as well but the husband and wife team make a formidable pairing. Finally, in good sound, a rather anomalous 1960 postscript of arias from the early singspiel Erwin und Elmire. These are operetta-ish things Ė think frothy Vienna Ė but are very nicely and adroitly sung and performed. Schoeck had been dead three years when they were broadcast.

The aural problems duly noted, this is an important disc of Schoeck historic performances, as usual very well annotated and with full German/English texts.

Jonathan Woolf


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