Peter Schöne – baritone, PhilHarmonia Octet Prague: Vilém Veverka, Monika Boušková – oboe, Irvin Venyš, Karel Dohnal – clarinet, Martin Petrák, Václav Vonášek – bassoon, Přemysl Vojta, Ondřej Vrabec – horn. Guests: Petr Ries – double bass, Michael Kroutil – military snare drum
Gustav Mahler’s cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn features on innumerable recordings – so why yet another one? Because it is … entirely different. Peter Schöne, a baritone with an immense sense for songs, the winner of prestigious international competitions (Franz Schubert Kammermusikwettbewerb in Graz, ARD in Munich), accepted the invitation to work with PhilHarmonia Octet Prague, whose members have performed with leading European orchestras (Czech Philharmonic, Berliner Philharmoniker, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln). After presenting arrangements of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and a suite from Leoš Janáček’s opera From the House of the Dead, the Mahler project currently represents the apex of the Czech wind ensemble’s endeavour to extend their repertoire and make it even more intriguing. Even though essentially intimate, Mahler’s songs have often been closely linked with symphonies, which also applies to the Des Knaben Wunderhorn collection. Of the 24 pieces, PhilHarmonia Octet Prague have recorded ten, those best suited to a wind ensemble. Opting for wind instruments makes sense, given that in his childhood Mahler’s musical vocabulary was formed in part by listening frequently to the Jihlava military band. His music is interwoven with military motifs, with wind instruments being afforded a prominent position. The chamber arrangements on the new album show an interesting path between the piano and orchestral versions, and allow for highlighting the colourfulness and intimacy of Mahler’s songs.
Mahler’s songs, extraordinarily colourful and intimate
“Peter Schöne sings correctly and with a great deal of communicative power… The PhilHarmonia Octet Prague plays excellently, and in the two purely instrumental pieces one can hear exemplary, really good ensemble playing in which all instruments are equal.” Pizzicato, April 2023
“The arrangements are on the whole very good … in the songs they offer a lighter accompaniment than a full orchestra, allowing the singer to develop a more intimate, nuanced approach to Mahler's word-setting … Peter Schöne has a pleasing, mellifluous light baritone voice … the ensemble is warm, rich and immediate.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2023