Robert Craft

Webern: Symphony; Six Pieces; Concerto for 9 Instruments

(CD - Naxos #8557530)

Review by

A few aging listeners will recall a time when the only way to hear most of the music of Anton Webern was through the recordings of Robert Craft. Few of those listeners will recall those performances with pleasure. Webern's music was new then, so most of it had never been recorded before, so no one really knew how it went. That Craft had his musicians do as well as they did is to be commended. That they didn't do it better is to be regretted. But that they set back the cause of Webern's music two decades is incontrovertible because in Craft's recordings, Webern's music sounds more like random bleeps, blips, and bloops than music.

That was then and this is now. Craft has had 50 years to live with Webern's music and two generations of musicians have grown up in the meantime. The first disc in Craft's second Webern series benefits immeasurably from both. Although Craft's Webern still sounds a bit angular, that may be an interpretative inclination rather than a technical flaw. More importantly, these performances are tremendously musical. For once, Webern's music sounds light, lyrical, witty, expressive, and tender. While some of the music on this disc is still a stiff dose of unreconstructed dodecaphonic serialism, most of it is passionately controlled, deeply emotional, and profoundly spiritual. Naxos' sound is clear and vivid.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Symphony, Op. 21
1
07:34 Amazon
2
02:36 Amazon
Canons (5) on Latin Texts for voice, clarinet & bass clarinet, Op. 16
3
00:26 Amazon
4
01:05 Amazon
5
00:53 Amazon
6
00:37 Amazon
7
00:34 Amazon
Traditional Rhymes (3) for soprano & ensemble, Op. 17
8
00:46 Amazon
9
00:43 Amazon
10
01:02 Amazon
Songs (3) for soprano, E flat clarinet & guitar, Op. 18
11
01:05 Amazon
12
01:16 Amazon
13
01:37 Amazon
String Trio, Op. 20
14
03:50 Amazon
15
05:57 Amazon
Quartet for clarinet, saxophone, piano & violin, Op. 22
16
02:55 Amazon
17
02:34 Amazon
Variations for piano, Op. 27
18
01:48 Amazon
19
00:41 Amazon
20
03:28 Amazon
Pieces (6) for orchestra, Op. 6
21
01:18 Amazon
22
01:24 Amazon
23
01:06 Amazon
24
04:43 Amazon
25
02:46 Amazon
26
01:52 Amazon
Pieces (4) for violin & piano, Op. 7
27
01:12 Amazon
28
01:38 Amazon
29
01:41 Amazon
30
01:07 Amazon
Little Pieces (3) for cello & piano, Op. 11
31
00:58 Amazon
32
00:23 Amazon
33
01:03 Amazon
Concerto for 9 instruments, Op. 24
34
02:47 Amazon
35
02:36 Amazon
36
01:29 Amazon
German Dances (6) for orchestra (arr. from Schubert)
37
00:58 Amazon
38
01:31 Amazon
39
01:30 Amazon
40
01:14 Amazon
41
01:39 Amazon
42
02:27 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick