Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Reviews from other months
OTHMAR SCHOECK (1886-1957) Nachhall (1954-55) * Five Eichendorff Songs ** Three Hesse Songs ** * Arthur Loosli (bass bar) Radio Bern Chamber Ensemble/Theo Loosli ** Arthur Loosli (bass bar) Karl Grenacher (piano) rec * 1973; ** 1968 JECKLIN JD 535-2 [56.52]


Schoeck is a Swiss composer of late romantic and often elegiac (some might say mournful) music. The human voice was the centre of his inspiration. The music is determinedly melodic shaped by the human voice and romantic song.

On this disc there are nine songs for piano and voice (18 mins) and a major song cycle for voice and chamber ensemble (34 mins).

Nachhall (for voice and chamber ensemble) the song cycle, is his Op. 70; his last work. It is heavy with that woodland nostalgia peculiar to the golden age German poets. Exile and hushed reflection meet an emotionally replete resignation. The spell is very strong. Speaking of magic, that quality is prominent in the quiet and quick Mein Herz [3]. The orchestral piano plays an assertive role in the Straussian high jollity of Veranderte Welt. In this last cycle a carpet of orchestral detail which rarely takes the foreground provides a discreet partner for the voice. Speaking of Loosli (whose brother(?) Theo conducts) listen to his admirably steady tone production at the end of Abendheimkehr.

Auf eine Hollandische Landschaft is slow as is Stimme des windes the ghost of the winds rather than their ebullient youth. Falsche Freund is sardonic. The mysterious dream of Niagara ushers us into dreams at the edge of the chasm. This is a song of considerable emotional force well projected by Loosli. Der Kranich starts in fugal splendour and then becomes ghostly. This golden age song cycle is rounded out in Autumnal (almost wintry) elegies.

The six Eichendorff songs are from a recording dating from five years earlier than the Nachhall tape. Again Loosli's super-fine enunciation is a great strength but this is detracted from by the use of what appears to be hiss suppression. This creates a 'push-pull' effect. In the quiet segments or the silences you are aware that the hiss has largely gone but in order not to compromise the original sound the hiss returns when the music reappears. With that point made, Nachklang is delightful for its gently chiming piano. Auf dem Rhein hymns the glories of the Rhein. Auf meines kindes tod is funereally slow, as you might expect. The pace is similar in Abendlandschaft. Im wandern is more vigorously Schubertian. The three brief Hesse songs comprise: Ravenna, Fur ninon and Keine Rast.

The recordings are between 26 and 31 years old. Tape hiss from the original masters is detectable but it is distant and soon lost in the face of the poetry of this music and its performance.

The notes are by the singer. Full German language song texts are printed but no translation.

Jecklin have recorded his complete lieder on twelve CDs. Those discs were completed during the 1990s. The present disc dates from an earlier era and Nachhall, which I believe is not otherwise available in its orchestral dress, is well worth your listening time if you are into German late romanticism. There is a Meridian recording of Nachhall but this is not the orchestral version. Nachhall is almost certainly the place to start before going on to the much longer Elegie.


Robert Barnett

See also previous reviews of Othmar Schoeck recordings


Robert Barnett

Return to Index