Daniele Gatti / Anat Efraty / Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Berg: Lulu Suite; Drei Orchesterstücke

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Although most listeners would agree Alban Berg's music surpasses Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern's music in terms of beauty, his music, like their music, is still nearly universally disdained. This disc with Daniele Gatti leading the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Berg's Drei Orchesterstücke and Symphonic Suite from his opera Lulu may not completely change that situation. The bone-crushing march that closes the Drei Orchesterstücke is still bone-crushing and the soul-killing dissonant chord at the climax of the Lulu Suite is still soul-killing. But like the great recordings of these pieces from the past -- Abbado's and Levine's come immediately to mind, though its hard to forget Dorati and Kleiber's -- Gatti and the Dutch musicians' approach emphasizes the music's deep lyricism and profound humanity. Here, themes in the opening Praeludium and central Reigen of the Drei Orchesterstücke are both beautiful and memorable while those of the Suite's Rondo and "Lied der Lulu" touch the heart like few others in the early twentieth century repertoire. Naturally, the Concertgebouw plays with the combination of polish and passion that is the earmark of a great orchestra while the blend of brilliant soloists within a cogent ensemble is their own unique signature. Gatti's leadership is confident and commanding and his interpretation is powerfully dramatic without being unduly histrionic. Captured in earth-shaking super audio surround sound, this may not be the only Berg orchestral disc one should hear -- there are, after all, those by Abbado, Levine, Dorati, and Kleiber -- but it would make a compelling first Berg orchestral disc.

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