While there were earlier Schulhoff CDs from Supraphon,
the most systematic and prestigious celebration of the music condemned
by the Nazis as ‘degenerate’ was Decca’s Entartetemusik
series. Surely that is a series that merits reissue and preferably in
a single box to match Universal’s The Decca Sound
two Mercury Living Sound
volumes. Other labels, including Albany
and EMI, have launched out into these waters but along comes the Exil.Arte
Gramola series of which this is the fourth disc. The earlier volumes
are Hans Gál: 98896, Walter Arlen: 98946/47 and an anthology
Klavierduo recital: 98892.
’s Double Concerto has a pounding neo-classical
resonance that reminds me of Martinů’s Concerto for Two
String Orchestras, Piano and Timpani
. The Andante
agreeably cool and something close to chilly. The finale flitters along
like a butterfly with an outboard if you will forgive the mix of media.
This is a merry piece and happily executed by soloists and orchestra
in a warmly bathed acoustic.
like Schulhoff met his death in the concentration camps.
We hear his athletic and clean limbed yet far from unemotional String
Quartet No. 3 uprated to full orchestral garb by Kenneth Woods who has
done so much through Avie for the music of Hans Gál. He has achieved
what feels like a most sensitive job. The music at times sounds like
Bernard Herrmann - but it’s the other way around. Herrmann too
essayed music for massed strings and in much the same bleakly mournful
and eerie style: you can hear this in Fahrenheit 451
and The Nightdigger
as well as his concert work, the 1935 Sinfonietta
: There is also something here that feels Scandinavian
as in the dancing elements of the Wirén Serenade
Nystroem’s two concertos for string orchestra. The outer movements
also feel similar to the string writing of Miklos Rozsa in his Hollywood
scores of the 12940s and early 1950s. I doubt if Ullmann
was present to hear Bliss’s Music for Strings
when it was
premiered in 1935 in Salzburg but the last movement also has its parallels
with that work.
Breaking away from the orchestral medium we hear the delicately balletic
Flute Sonata by Schulhoff. Delightful and witty - this music almost
touches hands with Poulenc. It still feels like an interloper in this
orchestral company despite its intrinsic excellence.
took refuge from 1930s Germany in England and wrote
his touchingly haunting Coventry - Meditation for String Orchestra
in 1941 - initially for string quartet. It’s a sustained elegiac
piece that in its breathily unexaggerated sincerity would match well
in a concert programme with Howells’ Elegy
’s Three Pieces for String Orchestra
turn are most endearingly modelled on Grieg’s string music and
then a Straussian (Richard) piece of neo-classicism in the Menuet
and a chirpy Pipa Tanzt
which keeps casting admiring eyes towards
Grieg again. These are lovely pieces.
The playing and recording are admirable and the full liner notes - 11
pages in English - are a substantial and helpful complement.