ERNST KRENEK (1900-1990): Tricks and Trifles, Op. 101 (First Recording), Symphony “Pallas Athene”, Op. 137, 7 Orchestral Pieces, Op. 31, Potpourri, Op. 54.
Catalogue Number: 11V010
Description: A useful selection of rarities from various stages of the prolific and confusing composer’s career. Tricks and Trifles (1945) is a most attractive, entirely tonal, suite of very short variations followed by a lively fugue, in which the composer returns to the idioms of Stravinskyan neoclassicism, nostalgic Romanticism and jazz. The work is Krenek's orchestration of his "Hurricane" Variations for piano on a theme by his student and friend Virginia Seay. The 1954 symphony, derived from his opera Pallas Athena Weeps, is something of an anachronism; making free use of dodecaphony, it actually inhabits a sound-world very indebted to Mahler, with some obvious references to the Ninth Symphony in particular, and doesn’t sound particularly 'modern' for the time when it was written. Its three tersely dramatic movements stray further from tonality than Mahler ever did, though no more than, for instance, Berg's Drei Orchesterstücke. As the title suggests, 1927's Potpourri is something of a melange of styles - all tonal; the piece predates by a couple of years his embrace of the 2nd Viennese School - neoclassical, neo-Romantic, with sections inflected by the jazz of Johnny spielt auf, but others that sound like parodies of, or homages to Wagner and Debussy. The Seven Orchestral Pieces (1924) are fine, full-blooded, sumptuously orchestrated and dramatically effective examples of late Romanticism, bearing the unmistakable imprint of Krenek's studies with Schrecker. Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz; Karl-Heinz Steffens.