Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Franz Schreker, Peter Gulke, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin|
The best intro to a Schreker opera
Classic Music Lover | Maryland, USA | 09/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of the numerous operas Franz Schreker wrote, this is probably the best one to sample first. Compared to the others, the plot is actually understandable (Schreker wrote all of his own libretti and they are rather complicated, usually focusing on deep-seated sexual or personality dysfunctions -- similar to the operas of his compatriot Zemlinsky).
If you like Korngold's "Die Tote Stadt" or some of Richard Strauss' more lurid/dramatic early operas (Salome and Elektra in particular), you'll likely enjoy this opera as well. In Irrelohe (it means "Crazy Fire"), you'll encounter the sumptuous orchestration and soaring vocal lines that characterize so much of this composer's output ... but this opera is more compact in its utterance and form, thereby making it an easier listen. You'll hear some of Schreker's most thrilling music he ever penned -- particularly in the Third Act wedding scene and final denouement, plus the concluding scene wherein the two main characters find new life in a new dawn (sort of a "Gotterdammerung meets Phoenix" moment).
This CD was produced from a live recording made by Austrian Radio, but you wouldn't know it without reading the program notes -- there's no applause and the audience is inaudible. The soloists (I don't recognize any of them) are very fine, and the Vienna Symphony and Singverein Chorus under conductor Peter Gulke provide rich accompaniment.
Some critics consider Der Ferne Klang, Die Gezeichneten and Das Spielwerk und die Prinzessen to be superior operas to Irrelohe. While I agree that Gezeichneten ("The Branded Ones") is a great work, musically speaking I put it and Irrelohe on the same plane, with Schreker's other operas further down the list. Unfortunately, this recording is almost impossible to find at the moment, but it's well-worth tracking down."
G.D. | Norway | 11/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It must be one of the great misfortunes of the musical world that this recording is out of the catalogue. Irrelohe is, in the opera, the name of the castle of Count Heinrich, and would translate something along the line of "capricious flame". The name should be rather suggestive of what the opera is like, musically; Schreker decadent expressionist jugendstiel is strongly symbolist, lush and opulent and at times quite dissonant. Richard Strauss' Elektra might be the most obvious comparison. It is sumptuously orchestrated, but the most impressive thing is Schreker's ability, despite the almost constant over-the-top frenzied juxtapositions of extreme emotions and kaleidoscopic swirls of atmospheres, to hold the structure together. The result is a remarkably cogent and effective work that really packs a punch. In fact, I'm ready to claim it's nothing short of a masterpiece.
And it is wonderfully realized here by the Vienna Singverein and Symphony Orchestra under Peter Gülke and a strong cast of soloists. It is a live recording, something which is not really recognizable; no complaint about the sound. Urgently recommended."