Schulhoff: Landschaft, Etc / Soffel, Albrecht, Et Al

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Long thought lost and apparently only recently rediscovered, the two song-symphonies Landschaften and Menschheit have much in common. In a conceptual sense, both clearly are the spawn of Das Lied von der Erde. Both are scored for alto (or mezzo) solo and chamber orchestra and date from the years just before 1920. Both take ripe, somewhat over-the-top poetry as an excuse to explore the outer regions of fin-de-siècle decadence (the actual words almost don't matter), and both are simply gorgeous, full of the sounds of sultry muted brass, sensual harp glissandos at every turn, and lazily impressionistic harmonies. In five movements each, and lasting only 16 and 26 minutes respectively, they would make a wonderful addition to any concert program, and it's delightful to meet them here.

By contrast, the concert suite of incidental music from Der Burger als Edelmann (a.k.a. Le bourgeois gentilhomme) glitters with the hard sonorities of piano, percussion, and seven winds, and comes from the mid-1920s when the composer had discovered that personal combination of folk-music and Les Six-type "Dadaism" by which he is best known. All three works are beautifully played under Gerd Albrecht, the vocal works swooning and luscious, the incidental music bright, pungent, and rhythmically snappy (there's another fine performance on Channel Classics featuring the Ebony Band, by the way, but the two vocal symphonies are premieres). Doris Soffel sings with intelligence and deserves credit for learning the music, but she lacks the one quality that the music ideally requires: a truly beautiful voice. Still and all, with excellent sound, these pieces are wonderful souvenirs of their time and place by a marvelously talented composer. Easily recommended to the curious.

--David Hurwitz,

Product Description:

  • Release Date: October 17, 2003

  • Catalog Number: ORF-C056031

  • UPC: 4011790056128

  • Label: ORFEO

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Erwin Schulhoff

  • Conductor: Gerd Albrecht

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Deutches Symphonie Orchester, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin members

  • Performer: Doris Soffel, Michael Rische