Tom Schnauber: Death and Waltzes

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Death and Waltzes is a collection of music for string orchestra by German-American composer Tom Schnauber. It is an extension of the composer’s work with the Russian String Orchestra (formerly the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin) after winning their “International Homage to Mozart” Composition Competition in 2006. The nine works featured were written between 1995 and 2014; some specifically for the R.S.O. all linked by themes suggested in the CD’s title. Some are single-movement “in memoriam”-type pieces in fond and sometimes aching memory of other musicians: the vivacious violinist and conductor Henri Temianka; the gifted and underplayed composer Leroy Southers; and Schnauber’s first musical “hero”, J.S. Bach. Another is in memory of the composer’s father, who died during the making of this CD. Among the other works are two dances; mysterious and off-kilter waltzes, reflections of Schnauber’s Alpine heritage and two left feet. Another two are stories told in music whose narratives involve both dancing and dying. They invoke experiences of the composer’s fictional “alter ego”, eminent musicologist Johannes von Märland.

Death and Waltzes is a recording of music for string orchestra by German-American composer Tom Schnauber, performed by the dynamic and adventurous Russian String Orchestra (formerly Chamber Orchestra Kremlin), Moscow, led by its redoubtable Music Director, Misha Rachlevsky.

The recording features nine works all linked by themes suggested in the CD’s title. Some of the works are single-movement “in memorium”-type pieces.  Three are in fond and sometimes aching memory of other musicians: In Memory of Henri Temianka of the vivacious, witty, and brilliant violinist and conductor Henri Temianka; Tell Me About This Piece, Leroy of the gifted and underplayed composer Leroy Southers; and Die schwersten Fesseln of Schnauber’s first musical “hero”, J.S. Bach.  Another, Nachwort: Die Harfe, is in memory of the composer’s father, who died during the early stages of making this CD.

Of the remaining works, Eis-Walzer II  and Ziegenfusstanz are odd and off-kilter waltzes of sorts, reflections of Schnauber’s Alpine heritage and two left feet. Nacht der verklaerten Toten and Finds are stories told in music whose narratives involve both dancing and dying.  They invoke experiences by the composer’s fictional “alter ego”, eminent musicologist Johannes von Märland (b.1890 [sic]). This character’s adventures with zombies, jigs in fields of heather, and tunes lost in the woods have inspired the colors and forms of these textless works.

  1. Finds 1. Heather
  2. Finds 2. Air
  3. Finds 3. Gem
  4. Finds 4. Relic
  5. Die schwesten Fessein
  6. Nacht der verklärten Toten
  7. Dona nobis pacem
  8. Ziegenflußtanz
  9. In Memory of Henri Temlanka
  10. Tell Me About This Piece, Leroy
  11. Els-Walzer II
  12. Nachwort: Die Harfe