OP0188. PENTHESILEA (Schoeck), recorded 1999, Lucerne, w.Venzago Cond. Basel S.O. & Czech Phil. Chorus; Yvonne Naef, James Johnson, Renate Behle, Susanne Reinhard, Stuart Kale, Cheyne Davidson, etc. (Switzerland) 2-Pan 510 118, w.Elaborate Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 7619990101180
“The plot of Schoeck’s PENTHESILEA follows von Kleist's grim drama. The story and atmosphere are akin to the murderously sinister material used by Fibich in his HIPPODAMIA melodrama and the opera SARKA. Schoeck shortened the text of the play but resisted the temptation to add anything. The work was premiered in 1927 at the Dresden Opera.
Schoeck’s approach is highly individual. The soundworld stands out from his other operas. The orchestra includes two pianos, only four solo violins, a disproportionately large number of violas, cellos and double basses, no harps, no bassoon only a contra-bassoon, ten clarinets, four trumpets in the orchestra and three extensively used trumpets on stage. This is the toughest of the Schoeck operas. SCHLOSS DURANDE and MASSIMILLA DONI are each much more approachable in a hyper-romantic mode related to the work of Schreker and Zemlinsky. In PENTHESILEA Schoeck takes his lead from the priests of dissonance softening the elbows and angularities with a misty aureole.
The writing is packed with marvellous effects and incidents. Note the conveyed initmacy of the dialogue among the Amazonians. Moonlight shifts and trickles through the textures of the four solo violins in a way perhaps learnt from Schoeck’s study of the score of ROSENKAVALIER."
- Rob Barnett, musicweb-international