This disc directed by Robert Craft will be compulsory listening for Schoenberg fans. All the works here come from the second half of the composer's career, that is, after he had invented the dodecaphonic system. The program includes two chamber works, the String Trio, Op. 45, and the Septet-Suite, Op. 29; two pieces of choral music, the Four Pieces for Mixed Chorus, Op. 27, and the Three Satires for Mixed Chorus, Op. 28; and one orchestral work, the Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene, Op. 34. In every case, Craft has assembled a crack team of players, including the London Symphony, the Simon Joly Chorale, and Rolf Schulte, Richard O'Neill, and Fred Sherry. They deliver note-perfect performances that are nevertheless full of passion and insight. The String Trio, said to depict the composer's heart attack, is truly frightening, and the Three Satires, one of which pokes fun at Stravinsky, are truly funny. The Septet-Suite, if not exactly elegant, is at least as smooth and sweet as Schoenberg ever got. Craft, whose history with the composer went back five decades, is completely under the skin of the music, and his dedication is total and unquestioning. Listeners for whom dodecaphonic music has the charm of fingernails on a blackboard may not find this disc to their liking, but it should be of interest to anyone with an interest in art music from the first half of the 20th century. Although the performances were recorded in different times and places for different labels, the sound is consistently clear and clean, though not especially evocative.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|String Trio, Op. 45|
|Four Pieces for Mixed Chorus, Op. 27|
|Three Satires for Mixed Chorus, Op. 28|
|Septet-Suite, Op. 29|