Josef Schelb Orchestra Music Vol. 2 features concertos

German composer Josef Schelb lost most of his manuscripts in a Berlin air raid during World War II. He made up for those losses after the war, creating 150 new works between 1949 and his death in 1977. This album features three of his post-war concertos.

The Kammersymphonie Berlin seems the ideal ensemble for this music. Schelb’s music has a stripped-down sound to it. The ensemble’s tightly focused sound adds intensity to the stripped-down nature of Schelb’s works.

Overall, Schelb’s music bears some resemblance to that of Paul Hindemith. One of the real values of this release is hearing how Schelb moves beyond Hindemith as time moves on.

The 1949 Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra is the most Expressionistic work of the three. Schelb seems to use Hindemith’s concepts of tonality in this piece. Pianist Tatjana Blome performs with authority and energy.

The Viola Concerto, completed in 1956, has a different character. Schelb’s use of chromaticism is much more aggressive. Although there’s still a tonal framework, the music has an unsettled quality to it that works quite well. Violist Sarina Zickgraf delivers an engaging performance that sounds organic to that of the orchestra.

Schelb’s Concerto for Cor Anglais and String Orchestra was written in 1970. The chromatic elements seemed to have softened. They’re still present but used to create consonances rather than dissonances.

Dominik Wollenbweber plays the cor anglais with supple lyricism. Even the most angular of Schelb’s melodies have a smoothness to them that softens their sharp edges.

Josef Schelb: Orchestral Music, Volume 2
Orchestral Music, Volume Two
Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra; Concerto for Viola and String Orchestra; Concerto for Cor Anglais and String Orchestra
Tatjana Blome, piano; Sarina Zickgraf, viola; Dominik Wollenweber, cor anglais
Kammersymphonie Berlin; Jürgen Bruns, conductor
Toccata Classics TOCC 0604

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