Heinz Holliger / Camerata de Lausanne / Lausanne Chamber Orchestra

Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht; Chamber Symphony No. 2

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For this release from Zig-Zag Territoires, Heinz Holliger leads the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne in two works of Arnold Schoenberg, the string orchestra version of Verklärte Nacht, and the Chamber Symphony No. 2, followed by Anton Webern's Langsamer Satz, also arranged for string orchestra. All three pieces are tonal, predating the development of atonality and the later twelve-tone system, with which these composers are most strongly associated. Yet they also show a pushing of the boundaries of tonality, revealing the need both men felt for liberating harmonies and keys from the strictures of 19th century common practice. Verklärte Nacht is clearly in the key of D minor, though it's intense chromaticism makes it unstable and restless, rather in the style of Wagner's Prelude to Tristan und Isolde. The Chamber Symphony No. 2, rendered in neo-Classical style, clearly has a tonal orientation, but the quartal progressions and angular counterpoint create ambiguity and harmonic resolution is consistently avoided. Webern's movement, originally written for string quartet, is similar to Verklärte Nacht in its unstable chromatic harmonies, though it conveys much warmer post-Romantic expressions. Holliger and his musicians give these pieces clear, concise readings that focus the pieces and make them comprehensible, even in their densest passages. Zig-Zag's sound is exceptional in its presence and depth, and the transparent separation of parts is especially helpful for listeners following scores.

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