Schreker – Vorspiel zu einem DramaMahler – Rückert-Lieder
Berg – Three Orchestral Pieces, op.6
Pfitzner – Palestrina: Three Preludes
Petra Lang (mezzo-soprano)
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
I struggle to recall the last time I heard a piece by Franz Schreker in a concert programme. It is a great pity, since, whilst he might not be a ‘great’ composer, he is often a very good one, and certainly superior to many composers who occupy concert, still more opera, programmes. This performance of his Vorspiel zu einem Drama, an expansion of the opening Prelude to Die Gezeichneten, opened with what one might consider a classic Schreker sound from the ORF SO under Ingo Metzmacher: lush yet variegated, with a finely-judged phantasmagorical quality. Not that it lacked direction; indeed, the onward tread, especially later on, of its progress was a particular quality of this reading. Unsurprisingly Metmzacher sometimes emphasised the more overtly modernistic qualities of Schreker’s writing, for instance for tuned percussion, but never didactically. Performance and work veered between post-Gurrelieder, post-Tristan, post-Salome writing, with a proper sense of nausea at the end. Having walked to the gilded Musikverein from the Belvedere, where I had seen a good number of works by Gustav Klimt, this seemed, as it was, properly golden late-late-Romanticism. If Metzmacher did not wallow unduly, the music remained something of a guilty pleasure.