* Introduction and Fugue (1948)
* Symphony in C (1963)
* Sinfonia diatonica (1957)
Staatskapelle Weimar/Jose Serebrier.
Naxos 8.570435 Total time: 65:40
Summary for the Busy Executive: (Yawn).
Reinhard Schwarz-Schilling (1904-1985) studied with Heinrich Kaminski,
a pupil of Bruckner. During the Third Reich, he went into a kind of
internal exile, rather than co-operate with the Nazis, all the while
worrying about his wife, of Jewish family. After World War II, he
received an appointment as a professor of composition to the Berlin
Hochschule fuer Musik, where he remained until his death.
The liner notes make a big deal of the Bruckner Tradition as transmitted
through Kaminski and of Schwarz-Schilling's swimming against the postwar
aesthetic tide -- never joining either the dodecaphonists or the Darmstadt
avant-garde -- as if a conservative musical language guaranteed musical
worth or a radical one automatically invalidated a score. I've never
quite understood what sort of music those who hold tightly to this
position really want -- Bruckner's Tenth, perhaps? To me, the whole
tonal-vs.-atonal flap has been nothing but a red herring, and all
participants have spoken nonsense. Furthermore, like the Brahms-Wagner
fight during the Nineteenth Century, it became irrelevant. Music moved
another way. Aesthetic criteria opened up. Dodecaphony became one more
composing technique rather than an ideology. A magpie composer like
Leonard Bernstein turned out to be a prophet rather than a mere epigone.
The individual score grew more important than the style of that score.
We ask how good the piece as opposed to what language it speaks.
By that standard, Schwarz-Schilling -- although as a human being on the
side of the angels -- simply doesn't command much interest as a composer.
The Introduction and Fugue, his arrangement for string orchestra of a
quartet movement, merely takes up time. You think of other string works
of the period -- Barber's Adagio for Strings, Honegger's Second Symphony,
Schuman's Fifth, Stravinsky's Concerto in D -- and it becomes awfully
small potatoes in comparison. Like the scenery in southern Ohio viewed
from a car on the interstate, it just goes by. Once its opening measures
establish themselves, nothing out of the ordinary comes along to pique
your interest, and you ride in a daze to the end.
The liner notes praise the Sinfonia diatonica as "refreshing in the
context of the post-war symphony." However, that damns with faint praise.
After the war, German music suffered, since the Nazis had driven away
or killed almost all of their great composers. The only two truly major
figures in Germany after the war were Orff in Bavaria and, yes, Stockhausen
in Darmstadt, plus a handful of mainly choral composers like David and
Pepping. Henze's insipid dodecaphony bores just as much as Schwarz-Schilling's
smooth, but extremely bland ride. The orchestration, like Henze's, is
handsome, but the musical argument is, as the French say, mort -- like
the description of sonata form rather than the experience of a Beethoven
sonata. Things improve a little in the Symphony in C, but you have only
to compare it with Stravinsky's to feel its genteel good manners and
lack of real inspiration.
Serebrier does what he can but fails to turn Troy Donahue into Cary Grant.
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