This London double decker provides two different perspectives on Schoenberg's works. The first disc reflects Schoenberg's persistent formal concerns in the face of post-Romantic extravagance and modernist challenges. In Verklärte Nacht, a work strongly influenced by Liszt and Wagner, Schoenberg's writing is densely chromatic and expansive, though tonality is constant throughout and the music is formally balanced. The quartal harmony of the almost neo-Classical Chamber Symphony and the dodecaphonic Variations demonstrate radical changes in Schoenberg's resources, but the recognizable forms still show an affinity for Brahms and the Viennese tradition. Zubin Mehta's performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra are rich in color and detail. The second disc may be taken as a portrait of Schoenberg's Expressionist side. His powerful music strains form to the breaking point. The hypersensitive Pieces (5), the uneasily lush Songs (6), and the devastating Erwartung all emphasize emotion over intellect and push beyond abstraction into the realm of psychology. Christoph von Dohnányi's performance of the Pieces (5) with the Cleveland Orchestra has a nervous quality, and the fragile orchestration is sharply delineated. Erwartung, with Anja Silja and the Vienna Philharmonic, is even more agitated and gives a telling picture of Schoenberg at his most angst-ridden and subjective.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2
|Pieces (5) for orchestra, Op. 16|
|Songs (8) for voice & piano, Op. 6|
|Erwartung, monodrama in 1 act, Op. 17|