Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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OTHMAR SCHOECK (1886-1957) Violin Concerto in B flat major - Quasi Una Fantasia Op 21 (1912)  (rec 6 Feb 1947) * Horn Concerto Op 65 (1951) (rec 4 May 1956) ** * Stefi Geyer, Tonhalle Orchester Zurich / Volkmar Andreae ** Dennis Brain, Collegium Musicum/Paul Sacher archive mono recordings Jecklin Edition JD715-2 49:29



In the revival of interest in Schoeck’s music Jecklin have done the most. There are already eleven volumes of CDs devoted to his songs and Jecklin intend an edition which will record all of the songs. There are also three CDs of the orchestral song cycles and among much else in their rich catalogue the present CD issued last year but not reviewed anywhere as far as I can see. Did Fanfare review it?

The Violin Concerto has been recorded several times. This is the first recording originally issued on 78s. Ulrich Lehman’s intense performance was available on a Mace LP (1970s), Emmy Verhey’s MGB account has been around since 1991. Ulf Hoelscher recorded it for Novalis (I have not heard this one) and Claves fine recording featuring Bettina Boller.

The concerto is played by the dedicatee Stefi Geyer with whom Schoeck fell in an unreturned love and Schoeck wrote this concerto for her as well as several works for violin and piano (see my review of the recent Guild CD). The concerto is an essay or poem in lyrical writing. The style (quite Brahmsian in a lightish way) is backward looking with the occasional injection of Elgar. When she recorded the work in 1947 Geyer was no longer the young goddess to whom Schoeck aspired. This performance however has no shortage of vibrant music through which the blood runs hotly. From the obvious depth of feeling evident in the playing one can feel Thomas Hardy’s ‘throbbings at noontide’ still animating the playing and stirring memories. No doubt the composer was present at the Walter Legge directed recording sessions. It must have been an emotional experience for both soloist and composer.

The Horn Concerto comes from nearly forty years later. It was commissioned by an amateur horn player Willi Aebi. As I have mentioned before the composer’s assumed models are Mozart and Richard Strauss. The work has been recorded before on a Mace LP and on an MGB CD. Dennis Brain plays the work here and in a sound quality which is surprisingly good and a great advance on the by no means poor sound of the Geyer recording. Brain’s presence attests to the importance of this recording. Brain CDs are not numerous. The recording is surprisingly good for its vintage. This by the way is a radio tape rescued from Swiss Radio sound archives. The performance is very fine, bubbling, joyous and dramatic. The lightning and quicksilver performance by Bruno Schneider on CPO (especially) is also very fine. A lyrical work with a stronger vein of virtuosity and drama than the violin concerto, this work is a strong contender for return to the active horn repertoire.

Despite the lack of publicity about this album do seek it out. If you are looking for good modern stereo digital recordings then so far I would recommend the Boller on Claves (CD 50-9201) and for the horn concerto CPO’s Schneider on CPO 999 337-2. This is both a Schoeck archive document and a live and living musical experience. I recommend it strongly. It is complemented by in-depth and informative notes from Schoeck expert Chris Walton (I hope his Schoeck book will be translated into English), tasteful and distinctive leaflet design and comprehensive discographic details. All very satisfying. © Rob Barnett

International Distribution is via MusicContact in Heidelberg, Germany

Single orders can be made to Jecklin direct with payment by credit card, cheque or bank account. The cost of this CD is 38 swiss francs.

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Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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