ENJOTT SCHNEIDER (b.1950): Symphony No. 5 for Chorus and Orchestra “Schwarzwald-Saga”, Symphony No. 6 for Soprano, Chorus and Orchestra “Der Rhein”.

Catalogue Number: 01T008

Label: Wergo

Reference: WER 5117 2

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: Between his Romantic imagination and extensive film career, Schneider has become a particularly effective composer when it comes to depicting epic, mythological subjects and landscapes in vivid, large-scale musical forms - 11R086, 10S010, 12S011, 11S010 and 02S086 abound in this sort of thing. So do these two symphonies, inspired by the landscape and legends of, respectively, the Black Forest and the Rhine. The Fifth Symphony is a superb gothic romance in symphonic form, inspired by the composer's childhood memories of the ghost stories, myths and brooding landscape of the forest. While genuinely symphonic, the work also draws on Schneider's rich palette of cinematic musical effects, not without a certain tongue-in-cheek humor as previously encountered in Draculissimo (11S010), for example in the big heroic theme that dominates the finale. In the outer movements the chorus adds onomatopoeic sound effects - the night wind whistling through the trees, the distant howling of wolves - or are they ghosts? The central movement is an atmospheric setting of August Schnezler’s poem, “The Mummel-see” [The Water-Lily Lake], with its water-spirits and nocturnal apparitions. The Sixth is a more 'conventional' neo-romantic choral symphony in four movements, lasting 40 minutes. There are echoes of Strauss, Sibelius, Busoni and notably, Mahler; a celebratory drinking song in the second movement rondo, featuring the soloist, is distinctly related to the Drunkard in Spring from Das Lied. Not unexpectedly, Wagner is not infrequently evoked, not least in the use of a powerful 'Rhine theme' used as a leitmotif throughout, and Siegfrieds Rheinfahrt is not far away. The wide range of texts, by Tacitus and Plutarch, Rosa Maria Assing, Hildegard von Bingen and Heine, pay tribute to the rich culture, history and legend that surround the great river. The slow movement eerily and atmospherically treats the legend of Die Lorelei, with quotations from Friedrich Silcher's setting of Heine and a text by Assing. The finale celebrates the power of the river, the majesty of Cologne cathedral and visions of saints and angels, before a triumphant setting of Heine's “Im Rhein am schönen Strome” [In the Rhine, In the Beautiful River] brings the work to a rousing conclusion. German texts. Julia Sophie Wagner (soprano), Chorus and Orchestra of the Janáček Opera of the National Theatre Brno; Hansjörg Albrecht.

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