Schönberg, Webern, Berg: The Waltz Arrangements

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Schönberg, Webern, Berg: The Waltz Arrangements Review

by James Leonard

For anyone usually spooked by the names Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern and their dissonant music, this recording may give them a completely new perspective. The fourth of the Linos-Ensemble's recordings dedicated to the New Viennese School's transcriptions of large-scale orchestral works for chamber ensemble, this features arrangements of five waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr., and it could not possibly be more listener-friendly. With its ingratiating melodies, infectious harmonies, and irresistible rhythms, the music is among the most charming ever composed, and the arrangers honor that charm with transcriptions as delightful as the originals, albeit scored for much smaller ensembles. Three waltzes -- Rosen aus dem Süden, Lagunen Waltzer, and Kaiserwalzer -- were arranged by Schoenberg, while Wein, Weib und Gesang was done by Berg, and Schatzwalzer by Webern. The arrangements are played with schmaltz, sentimentality, and buoyant tempos by the Linos-Ensemble. Although there have been other recordings of these works -- the premiere recordings by the Boston Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble are particularly beguiling -- anyone interested in knowing what the composers of New Viennese School did for their summer vacation is urged to dive in. Capriccio's digital sound is crisp and clean, yet atmospheric.

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