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Franz Schreker: Kleine Suite

  • for chamber orchestra
  • 1 2 2 2 - 2 1 2 1 - timp, perc(6), hp, cel, pno, sax, str
  • Duration: 20’
  • Instrumentation details:
    flute (+picc)
    cor anglais
    clarinet in A (+cl(Bb))
    bass clarinet in Bb
    alto saxophone in Eb (+t.sax(C))
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    trumpet in C
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    bass tuba
    tubular bells
    violin I
    violin II
  • Composer: Franz Schreker
  • Table of contents:
  • Dedication: Dem Breslauer Rundfunk gewidmet

Work introduction

In 1927 the German Radio commissioned a number of composers to write works specifically for radio. The first in the series was Schreker's Kleine Suite (Little Suite), premiered in a nationwide broadcast from Breslau. The work, scored for chamber orchestra and written specifically with the limitations of the microphone in mind, is a fascinating distillation of the iridescent Schreker style familiar from his Vorspiel zu einem Drama. As Walther Gmeindl noted in 1928, Schreker's later orchestral style „the colours are no longer achieved through doublings in the individual sections of the orchestra but thanks to the sharp contrasts between the distinctly delineated voices of the woodwind, the strings and the brass" And yet Schreker's sensitivity to mixture and balance is everywhere in evidence, as in his beguiling paring of Bb clarinet and tenor saxophone in C over harp ostinato at the beginning of the Intermenzzo - a sly reinterpretation of the intoxicating opening bars of his Vorspiel zu einem Drama.

In the Little Suite we hear those angular, linear qualities already presaged in portions of the pantomime Der Geburtstag der Infantin of 1908 and the Chamber Symphony of 1916. The six movements of the suite - Präludium, Marcia, Canon, Fughetta, Intermezzo, Capriccio - are often contrapuntal in character and neoclassical in tone, but their sprightly wit and wry pathos are vintage Schreker.


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Breslau (DE)
Funkorchester Breslau
Franz Schreker

Press reviews

„...this piece induces one to look anew at this great composer of musical colours with his masterly and utterly individual blend of sonorities. Not that one discerns any break in his development, much rather, his Romantic sensitivity has obeyed the calls of the time. He has created constructive music which nevertheless does not stem from the intellect but from an excitable soul which must be throbbing always in the centre of action.

Breslauer Neueste Nachrichten

,.All of it is ingenious, witty, masterful in its technical command, full of tension in treading the paths of modern harmony"

Kölner Lokalanzeiger

.,The transparence of the entire work makes a very pleasant impression. Clear melodies, never at any point overdone; all of it obeying an inner necessity."

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