Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us


SCHUBERT EPILOG, DIALOG & symphonies 1, 3 & 7

Berio: Rendering
Reimann: Metamorphosen
Henze: Der Erlkönig
Zender: Schubert-Chöre 1 - 4
Schwertsik: Epilog zu "Rosamunde"
Bamberger Symphoniker/Jonathan Nott

Tudor CD 7131


Widmann: Lied für Orchester
Rihm: "Erscheinung"
Mantovani: "Mit Ausdruck"
Alain Billard, Bassklarinette
Schnebel: Schubert-Phantasie
Bamberger Symphonike/Jonathan Nott

Tudor CD 7132
(UK distributor Codaex)

These two essential CDs for Schubert lovers of today derive from a concert series in which Jonathan Nott and Bamberger Symphoniker traversed all Schubert's symphonies with contemporary works taking Schubert as its starting point for the most varied compositional imaginations.

In the '70s many young composers who were rejecting serialism turned to Schubert and worked on 'irritations' and modernisms found in Schubert's works as their guiding inspirations.

Berio works on the sketches for the Tenth Symphony, linking gaps in them with reminiscences of Schubert's late works. Reimann's cryptic metamorphosis of a Schubert minuet is followed by Henze's treatment of the speed of the Erlkonig's journey to the abyss, a ballet score in which the boy dances himself to death. Zender (who memorably has a 'composed interpretation' of Winterreise) has used serial techniques discreetly to orchestrate the accompaniment to four Schubert choir songs; superficially the least radical of the works on these two CDs. Schwertsik works on the rhythms and, eventually, the familiar melody of Rosamunde, incorporating 'particles' from the related Impromptu in Bb.

The other CD is equally intriguing, perhaps a little harder first time. Widmann's half-hour Song has constant changes of metre, a Schubertian atmosphere without quotes, but hints of the string quintet and the octet for those on the look-out. Rihm uses Schubert's 'Rider- & Wanderer-rhythms - - like wraiths, intangible islands in a maelstrom of tremoli' etc.

I heard Bruno Mantovani's bass-clarinet concerto included here at the Lucerne Festival recently, unaware (the programme notes were in German only) that it was driven by fragments of the accompaniments (not melodies) of Schubert songs (Gretchen, Erlkonig etc). It made a great impression, and so it does here with the same soloist, 'a cue-giver' for energetic orchestral development. Schnebel uses Webern's kaleidoscopic method in his instrumentation for (still very recognisable) transformation of Schubert's G major piano sonata.

Vivid performances and recording, and with illuminating tri-lingual notes. Very rewarding and thought-provoking; I've played both CDs twice and will return to them.

P.S. I have now had an opportunity to listen to one of the CDs of Schubert's symphonies, Nos 1, 3 & 7 (the Unfinished) in Tudor's numbering [TUDOR 7141].

They are excellent performances and it is interesting that the notes writer thinks No 3 the best of the six early symphonies. Certainly Jonathan Nott makes a strong case for it.

Having some of these too provides the possibility to restore at home the instructively mixed concerts as given originally in Bamberg.

© Peter Grahame Woolf