Various Artists

Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht; Erwartung; Five Orchestral Pieces; Variations for Orchestra; Chamber Symphonies

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This two-disc EMI set, entitled Schoenberg: Orchestral Works, opens with a piece that is not actually an orchestral composition at all, at least not in its present guise. The string sextet, entitled Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night), is one of Schoenberg's earliest significant works that he later transcribed for string orchestra. Notoriously difficult and often succumbing to horrific intonation problems, this performance by the Artemis Quartett joined by the violist and cellist of the Alban Berg Quartet is pleasingly solid. Although there are noticeable difficulties with intonation in higher registers, the ensemble more than makes up for it with its passionate, lucid performance. The remainder of the program does actually contain orchestra works, progressing almost entirely chronologically. This step-by-step progression through Schoenberg's orchestral repertoire, led by conductors Simon Rattle and Jeffrey Tate, allows listeners to observe how Schoenberg's harmonic language and treatment of large ensembles changed over time. In all cases, the performances are rock solid, clear, and methodically prepared, absolute musts for listeners not already familiar with Schoenberg's work. Soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson succeeds brilliantly in the free-form and often difficult-to-follow Erwartung, Op. 17 (Angst-dream). The only thing that could make this set a better choice for listeners would be a more comprehensive set of liner notes that included the text for Erwartung.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Pieces (5) for orchestra, Op. 16
1 02:21 Amazon
2 05:54 Amazon
3 04:13 Amazon
4 02:32 Amazon
5 03:45 Amazon
Erwartung, monodrama in 1 act, Op. 17
6 02:51 Amazon
7 02:51 Amazon
8 01:51 Amazon
9 02:09 Amazon
10 02:50 Amazon
11 04:22 Amazon
12 02:23 Amazon
13 01:41 Amazon
14 03:59 Amazon
15 04:51 Amazon
Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31
16 02:43 Amazon
17 01:11 Amazon
18 02:19 Amazon
19 00:49 Amazon
20 01:21 Amazon
21 02:09 Amazon
22 01:41 Amazon
23 02:50 Amazon
24 00:36 Amazon
25 00:59 Amazon
26 06:34 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick