yet another Schoeck review. I am quite unapologetic. Schoeck
has been a major discovery for me.
This Elegie recording is not the first. There is another with the singer
Arthur Loosli previously on LP but now reissued on CD from the Swiss company
Jecklin-Disco. Jecklin have recorded all Schoecks songs on a series
of 11 CDs. I have not heard the Loosli recording but it must in any event
date from the 1960s so cannot hope to match the CPO in terms of recording
The cycle sets poems in German by Nikolaus Lenau and Joseph von Eichendorff.
The cycle is very substantial: 24 songs spanning just short of an hour.
Schoecks music seemed untouched by the great war. The cycle was prompted
by Schoecks love affair with the concert pianist Mary de Senger whom
he first met in 1918. This is richly singable and listenable music though
largely unvaried in tempo - mostly slow. Without a voice of character and
chameleon colour such as Schmidts it could easily sound depressingly
mournful. As it is Schmidt has a fresh and lively voice which he colours
to catch the psychological drama of the individual poems and the overall
progress of the cycle. Elegie is hardly at all violent or raging. There is
an urgency behind some of the songs e.g. the slightly chilly
Nachklang. Most however have Schoecks accustomed and utterly
beguiling nostalgic musing sadness - something akin to Ivor Gurneys
two Housman cycles for male voice and string quartet. Herbstklage
is wonderfully judged - a sweetly joyous song. The notewriter identifies
the cycle as Schoecks last diatonic and openly late-romantic work.
For me it is difficult to draw this line as all of Schoeck works I have heard
are late-Romantic. The opera Penthesilea with its strange and strained
harmonic palette is an exception, being quite modernistic. In any event this
cycle is a sombre, doleful, introspective work. The spirit of the work is
not that far removed from Mahlers songs without the jauntiness or the
desperation. Elegie must catch you in the right mood. When it does
it casts a complete and hypnotic enchantment.
The full texts of the poems in both German and English are given in the CD
booklet. The notes are in German, English and French. The notes are by Schoeck
expert Christopher Walton. Altogether a most distinguished issue lovingly
prepared, performed and recorded.