Introduktion und Fuge für Streichorchester
Symphony in C
Recorded 26-28 February 2007 in CCN Weimarhalle, Weimar, Germany
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: September 2008
CD No: NAXOS 8.570435
Duration: 66 minutes
Stern, slightly foreboding and becoming radiant, the opening of the Introduction immediately grabs the attention before more rigorous material sets in and before losing its way in a pseudo-religious, sub-Bruckner way. The Fugue, interesting and intricate, is lively and incisive, very traditional and mastered from an ancient form; again, though, the music – this is a 1949 arrangement of the first movement of a 1932 String Quartet in F minor – seems to get stuck and renege its early promise.
Born in Hanover in 1904, Reinhard Schwarz-Schilling (who died in 1985) took early piano lessons from a pupil of Liszt and was composing in his teenage years before formally studying composition, conducting and the organ. He left much music for chorus, organ and chamber forces as well as numerous songs; he was also a professor of composition and made an independent career as a conductor and organist.
Of his orchestral pieces, Sinfonia diatonica (1957), for what sounds to be a Classical-size orchestra, impresses in its deftness and Stravinsky-like leanness. Lucidity is the watchword here and the musical material, entirely abstract, is often striking and luminous. This first recording of it is impressive, especially as the writing is so exposed. It seems that the composer became dissatisfied with the work. He sanctioned the separate performance of the middle-movement Largo (music of solemn beauty with some unexpected jazzy and percussive interjections) and never got around to his stated aim of revising the finale, which while appealingly light of touch and fantastical, lacks distinction and focus. Yet the first movement is full of harmonic and rhythmic surprises and really makes one sit up and listen.
Schwarz-Schilling’s other Symphony, in C, from 1963, is for a larger orchestra, and has both serious of purpose and an incisive regard for compositional processes and scoring. If Stravinsky was hovering over Schwarz-Schilling for Sinfonia diatonica, then, as Christoph Schlüren alludes in his booklet note, it is Sibelius who is present for Symphony in C, not so much the Finnish master’s Symphony 7 but his, also in C, No.3.