Thursday, October 19, 2017
Draeseke Quintets - Music Whose Time Has Come?
After listening to these quintets, I don't agree with von Bülow's first assessment. Although the second's true enough.
Draeseke was a student of Franz Liszt and an early admirer of Richard Wagner. Draeseke's use of Wagner-like leitmotifs and his fondness for counterpoint may be von Bülow's "hard nut."
Wagner's music puzzled many contemporary audiences. It makes sense that Draeseke's might also.
A century later, though, it doesn't elicit the same response (unless you really hate Wagner).
Draeseke's quintets aren't slavish imitations in any way. His music builds logically, heaping line upon line in masterful polyphonic construction. While the key may not always be clear, there's still a strong sense of forward motion. And everything seems to resolve satisfyingly in the final cadences.
If you like the tried-and-true, Draeseke's works may not appeal to you. But if you want something beyond the ordinary, these quintets might be just the thing. Draeseke's music seems to flow from one idea to the next.
The performances on this release are well-executed. The ensemble has a robust, full-bodied sound that makes loud passages especially exciting. And yet the players can play with delicacy when necessary. That ability provides clarity to some of the especially thick contrapuntal sections.
Felix Draeseke: Quintets Op. 48 & 77; Scene Op. 69
Solistenensemble Berlin; Breuninger Quartet
CPO 555 107-2