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Othmar Schoeck: Das Schloss Dürande

  • 2 2 3 3 - 4 3 3 1 - timp, perc, hp, pno, str, stage music: fl(2), hn(4), tpt(3), perc, pno, cel, org
  • Duration: 150’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute (+picc)
    2nd flute (+picc)
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe (+c.a)
    1st clarinet in Bb (+cl(A))
    2nd clarinet in Bb (+cl(A))
    bass clarinet in Bb (+bass cl(A))
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    3rd trumpet in C
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    3rd trombone
    percussion (xylophone
    snare drum
    bass drum)
    violin I
    violin II
    double bass
    stage music: 1st flute (+picc)
    2nd flute (+picc)
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    3rd trumpet in C
    percussion (tenor drum)
    celesta (musical clock)
  • Choir: Kinder-, Frauen-, Männer- und gemischter Chor
  • Composer: Othmar Schoeck
  • Librettist: Hermann Burte
  • Writer of pre-existing text: Joseph von Eichendorff
  • Adaptation: Mario Venzago
  • Text adapter: Francesco Micieli

Work introduction

It goes without saying that this opera - stigmatized by the [...] circumstances of its genesis and performance history - cannot be performed again in its original form. I made an initial, somewhat half-hearted attempt at radically excising Burte's makeshift rhymes and dramaturgically trite text from the score, leaving just the music behind. And it was only then that I recognised the impact of the music, its power and immediate sincerity. I also grasped that Schoeck had obviously composed his music over long stretches before even getting the text from his librettist. Without the text, without any words, the music itself tells the story of Eichendorff's novella in a compelling, unambiguous manner. I also recognized those passages where the composer had been compelled to extend his phrases and patch together bars in order to accommodate Burte's laborious verses more or less creditably. These joints have remained so visible that we can open them up again without damage to the musical substance, and then with a certain amount of skill, we can simply let the new verses flow into the music - without Burte's excrescences.

When I listen to the performance documented on this CD, I experience just what I had hoped for: the almost addictive rapture of the great Othmar Schoeck, with his visionary voice. This work is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary to have ever come from his pen. In fact, it's really his unspoken magnum opus. As in his other works from the war years, he continues to employ a musical vocabulary here that was already long out of date, if not in fact obsolete. We find much that is tonal and familiar, but passionate and cleverly packaged that it doesn't just come across as utterly authentic and appropriate, but also as exciting, new and deeply modern. Either way, it's unique! This CD is essentially the second step of an unparalleled project that was initiated by the Bern University of the Arts. In his book Zurück zu Eichendorff! - Zur Neufassung Othmar Schoecks historisch belasteter Oper "Das Schloss Dürande", Thomas Gartmann offers a meticulous documentation of the whole process of restoration, so that everyone can judge for themselves if it has been a success - ethically, morally and artistically. Because in this second step our concern is solely the musicthat everyone can now assess in its new context. It was our aspiration to present this ecstatic, rightly colourful score on this CD as closely as possible to how it sounded at its recent world première. So we had made hardly any edits, and engaged in no recording "tricks" at all. The singers mastered their task magnificently, and any little irregularities in their diction have been left untouched here. It is the listeners who will ultimately have to decide whether the implicit final step of our experiment can be undertaken: which is no less than the reintegration of Das Schloss Dürande into the operatic repertoire.

(Mario Venzago)

Sample pages

World première

Konzert Theater Bern, Bern (CH)
Sinfonieorchester Bern
Mario Venzago

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