Schreker: Orchestral Works (CD)

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Valda Wilson, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Christopher Ward

Trained as a violinist and as a composer at the Vienna Conservatory, Franz Schreker belongs to that group of composers whose careers were eclipsed by the events of 1933 in Germany, but whose music is now enjoying a welcome revival. Schreker was a prominent figure in early 20th-century Austro-German music, his reputation as an opera composer rivaling that of Richard Strauss. He wrote a relatively small amount of purely orchestral music, which is well represented on this programme. The recording will serve as an excellent introduction to a composer whose idiom often comes as a pleasant surprise to those unfamiliar with his work.

After the ban the Nazi rabble-rousers had imposed on him, it took a long time for Schreker’s oeuvre to be rediscovered, excavated from the archives, subjected to a re-appraisal and acknowledged as an indispensable element in one of the most fascinating periods of musical history. Although being taken for granted may bear the risk of renewed negligence, Franz Schreker’s status should no longer be challenged today. This makes it possible, apart from dealing with all of his main works also to consider what he himself perhaps did not deem his most ground-breaking works, ones permitting interesting insight into a musician’s workshop and displaying cross-references to his other works like you can hear on this recording.

Valda Wilson is the featured soloist on this release. Initially trained at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the soprano went on to win Opera Foundation Australia’s scholarship to the National Opera Studio London. She is one of the most versatile, exciting and musically curious sopranos of her generation, and is currently singing at the Saarlaendisches Staatstheater in several productions.

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1. Ekkehard (1902/03)
Symphonic Overture, Op. 12

2–3. On Eternal Life (1923 / 1927)
Two lyrical songs for soprano and orchestra
(Text: Hans Reisiger after Walt Whitman)

4. Fantastic Overture, Op. 15

5–8. Four little pieces for large orchestra (1930)
Four sketches for film

9. Prelude to a Grand Opera (1933)