PHILIPP SCHARWENKA (1847-1917): Dramatische Phantasie, Op. 108, Wald- und Berggeister, Op. 37, 2 Polnische Volkstänze, Op. 20.
Catalogue Number: 11L002
Description: Sterling's second dip into the œuvre of Xaver Scharwenka's lesser-known brother brings two short sets of dances: the "Forest- and Mountain-Spirits" are a very well-behaved group of beings, their nine-minute sequence beginning in a Mendelssohnian fashion but later approaching the bourgeois pleasures of the waltz!. The polonaise and mazur are heavily stylized and balletic in style, with elements of Austrian ländler in both. Since so much of Philipp's Nachlass was destroyed in World War II, we don't have dates for either of these works but we do know that the Phantasie was performed in Berlin in 1900 at a musicians' conference in Berlin. This is in three movements, of symphonic length (38 minutes), its gloomy and emotionally tormented first movement resembling the genre of the Prelude to a Tragedy that one also finds in various composer's work-lists around this time. The second movement is a "feminine" interlude with a lovely clarinet/harp duo standing out during its gentle, luxurious flow (not without some hints of Tristan) which is interrupted by a crescendo of passion before returning to its unruffled state. The finale is all positive action - upward-striving, onward-marching towards victory, a little Tarantella-like motif popping up here and there to underline the general optimistic character of a movement which ends in glowing affirmation. Altenburg-Gera Philharmonic Orchestra; Eric Solén.