The Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck is known above all as a significant composer of Lieder. His lifetime’s output of songs with piano, and his major orchestral song-cycles such as Elegie
and Lebendig begraben
(‘Buried alive’), mark him out as someone who succeeded in saying something fresh and expressively rich while developing the song-writing traditions of Hugo Wolf and Richard Strauss. His operas, including Venus
(1923–5) and Massimilla Doni
(1934–6), are also admired even if rarely staged, and a work like Penthesilea
shows that Schoeck was capable of radical and even violent utterance very different from his lyric song style. He wrote little for orchestra without voice, however: mainly occasional pieces, though they include a late concerto each for cello and for horn, each with string orchestra accompaniment.
from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2013