ENJOTT SCHNEIDER (b.1950): Isolde & Tristan for Erhu, Cello and Orchestra, Dreamdancers for Piccolo Trumpet, Flugelhorn and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 07U066
Reference: WER 5118 2
Description: We've seen many sides of the exceptionally versatile Mr Schneider as this valuable series has progressed, from his explorations of the epic and mythic (11R086, 08Q074), his works incorporating Chinese instruments and styles (02Q073) and his skilful concerto writing and taste for the surreal and nightmarish (10S010). These two unusual double concerti bring together many of these strands, along with humor and deliberate surrealism, all in his customary tonality-based, broadly neo-romantic style. Isolde and Tristan reinvents the tale with the Irish Isolde as an Asian fairy-tale princess, represented by the Chinese erhu, and Tristan retaining his heroic European nature, with chromatic music for the cello. The five movements present a dizzying collage of quotations from Wagner, modal folk music and cinematic Romantic story-telling, with the startling juxtapositions of hyperrealism and dreamlike illogic of Surrealist painters, of whom Schneider cites a long list as influences on his compositional thinking and techniques. The piece is not a joke; the love duet between the soloists in the central movement rivals Wagner for sensuality, the fourth movement depicts heroic striving and grief; but in the last movement, which reimagines Wagner's Liebestod as a schmalzy waltz on a grand scale, we enter fully into a world of imagination unfettered by reality. And we stay there for much of the concerto for romantic flugelhorn and shrill piccolo trumpet. Again, the music is perfectly 'serious', and the interplay between the divergent characters of the related soloists expertly handled, but there is something unsettling about the swirling waltzes, the abrupt shifts in tempo and perspective, the non sequiturs in thematic relationships. The finale, "Dancing Hummingbirds at the Gates of Hell" is not only one of the great titles of our time, but also a thrilling tour de force of energy and virtuosity. Without the title it might not be obvious that hummingbirds are involved, but the dæmonic ride through the netherworld is unmistakable. Jiemin Yan (erhu), Wen-Sinn Yang (cello), Otto Sauter (piccolo trumpet), Sergei Nakariakov (flugelhorn), Siberian State Symphony Orchestra; Vladimir Lande.