Draeseke: Chamber Works
Wollong, Mathias; Breuninger, Sebastian; Moorcroft, Annemarie; Grünkorn, Andreas; Schwartz, Felix; Wollenweber, Birgitta; Pohle, Georg; Dodds, Stanley; Riniker, David
Today Felix Draeseke is known in the concert world above all as a composer of sacred music and on recordings primarily as a symphonist. His operas are known only by name even to music experts, and he hardly receives any notice as a song composer, while his piano oeuvre has repeatedly attracted pianists looking for a welcome challenge. During recent decades Felix Draeseke’s chamber music as well as his orchestral works have met with occasional notice – but not in a very balanced way. His three string quartets have been almost entirely neglected, while his Clarinet Sonata and Quintet for Piano, String Trio, and Horn op. 48 – no doubt also because of the limited number of valuable romantic contributions to this genre – have enjoyed a certain popularity. They number among his most dazzling and radiant creations in a larger format since in his oeuvre a harshness that at least some listeners find difficult to grasp is what predominates. Draeseke composed his Quintet for Piano, String Trio, and Horn op. 48 in the fall of 1888 during a phase of the greatest creative productivity. The special appeal of the quintet lies in its combination of instruments in which the horn joining the strings and the piano is employed with a reserve respecting the resonance and power of this instrument. Despite its major tonic key, the String Quintet op. 77 is of an entirely different character. More than ever all the themes are invented primarily in view of their potential for multifaceted contrapuntal use. Here Draeseke adopted a fundamentally polyphonic compositional stance that is often absolutely vocal in character and would go on to find its expression refraining from any sort of showy effects in the great a cappella compositions of his later years.