Schoeck's 'Cello Concerto, written for strings alone, was begun early in 1947 and finished in late June. Pierre Fournier gave the first performance in February 1948 in Zurich. It is a fine work well worth getting to know although somewhat uneven and inconsistent stylistically. Much of the first movement sounds as though it could have been written fifty years earlier. As the booklet points out, Schoeck's harmony became far less dissonant in the post-war period. This movement doesn't break any new ground but it is melodically fairly strong and clearly structured although not always ideally focused. The principal melody is played by the soloist after a few bars introduction. It is soon repeated by the orchestral strings. The other main melodic ideas are the phrase heard at 1 min 51 secs and the C major tune heard at 3 mins 8 secs. I have pointed these out because Schoeck's lyrical, seamless writing may seem a little featureless at first. There is a short lyrical interlude for the orchestra alone marking the division between the exposition and the development which begins as the tempo picks up at 5 mins 54 secs. Although a clear musical thread is not always maintained, the various thematic elements are easily recognised as they recur. The main theme in particular is never far away. To its benefit, the recapitulation is shortened. It begins at 8 mins 58 secs but the arrival of the tonic ( A ) is delayed until the "third theme" is restated by the strings at 10 mins. The music becomes increasingly rhapsodic until a coda largely built on the main theme brings the movement to a determined end.
The meditative and songlike slow movement is essentially a ternary structure. The chorale-like opening idea is taken up by the 'cello in double stops,. The cello's extension of the melody is soon repeated by the strings. The central section begins with a new theme for the soloist first heard at 2 mins 48 secs. This section provides the concerto's most lyrical music. The violins accompany the 'cello in their highest register and eventually take up the theme at 3 mins 37 secs. The opening music steals in at 5 mins 27 secs, the melody now given extra contrapuntal interest. This is a lovely movement, beautifully sustained and highly imaginative in its treatment of essentially simple material.
Next comes a brief "presto" movement, very different in style to the rest of the concerto. Over in a little more that 2 1/2 mins, it is built on a few epigrammatic ideas, the most important of which is heard at once. Inviting a string player to play as fast as possible is risky and I'm not sure that Poltera completely avoids a tendency to sacrifice tone for speed and incisiveness of attack here.
The finale returns to the mood of the slow movement. Gradually the mood becomes more agitated until the molto allegro proper begins with a moto perpetuo theme for the soloist. A number of other melodic elements are thrown into the mix, the most prominent of which is a rhythmical idea characterised by repeated notes and a short downward sequence. According to the booklet, towards the end, Schoeck recapitulates material form the first movement but, I have to say, this was not apparent to me.
Schoeck's short 'Cello Sonata was his last work and was left incomplete at his death in 1957. The finale is missing. Its harmonies are even less dissonant than those of the concerto so, again, it sounds much earlier than its real date. The seamlessness of the lyrical writing and the absence of rhetoric in the outer movements may remind you of Faure. All-in-all it's a pleasant enough work but its melodic lines are inclined to wander and it lacks a distinctive profile. All in all, I didn't find it a compelling listen. The faster central movement comes closest.
The disc is completed by six of Schoeck's songs played on the 'cello. Although they are very similar in mood and are attractively lyrical, a dimension is missing when there are no words. The one which made the strongest impression on me was the third, "Nachlang".
It is for the concerto that this disc deserves a recommendation then but, although it receives a good performance here, I prefer the late Johannes Goritzki's account on Claves, a recording which won a "Grand Prix du Disque". Romantic 'cello concertos must not be rushed and, by taking a full 8 minutes more than Poltera, Goritzki finds an extra layer of expressive warmth throughout the work. He also avoids that scratchiness which afflicts the "presto" movement in Poltera's version. Gortizki's coupling, "Sommernacht" for string orchestra is also preferable to the sonata.
I should add that there is a third recording of the concerto by Christoph Croisé on a disc called "Summer Night". I haven't heard that disc but Croisé can be heard performing the concerto on Youtube ( as can Goritzki ) and the timings for the two performances are similar and very close to those adopted by Poltera. It is Goritzki I would recommend, then, but Croisé plays the "Presto" movement with better tone than Poltera and since, as well as "Sommernacht", his recording also includes Schoeck's "Suite for String Orchestra" Op.59, it would be a disc worth investigating if you fancy a tauter version of the concerto. To complicate matters yet further, Poltera's version of the concerto is also available coupled with fine performances of Frank Martin's concerto ( one of his most approachable works ) and Honegger's. That would seem a better buy than the disc under review. ( Don't be confused by what seem to be different conductors: Tuomas Hannikainen is the same person as Tuomas Ollila. )
Other Sellers on Amazon
Have one to sell?
Concerto for Cello
|Price:||+ $4.58 shipping|
See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
|Listen Now with Amazon Music|
Schoeck: Cello Concerto / Cello Sonata / 6 Songs Transcription
|Amazon Music Unlimited|
|New from||Used from|
- Language: : English
- Product Dimensions : 4.88 x 5.59 x 0.47 inches; 3.53 Ounces
- Manufacturer : BIS
- Original Release Date : 2007
- SPARS Code : DDD
- Date First Available : April 22, 2011
- Label : BIS
- ASIN : B000OYYBYI
- Number of discs : 1
Best Sellers Rank:
#436,565 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- #9,123 in Classical Concertos
- Customer Reviews:
4 out of 5
1 global rating