£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



 

BUY NOW 

Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951)
The Romantic Music of Arnold Schoenberg
Verklärte Nacht Op. 4 (1917, rev. 1943)
Sehr langsam
Etwas bewegter
Schwer betont
Sehr breit und langsam
Sehr ruhig
Pelleas und Melisande Op. 5 (1902)
Anfang
Sehr rasch
Ein wenig bewegt
Sehr langsam
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra/Yoel Levi (conductor)
Recorded in Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta, Georgia, USA on 2 October 1993 and 5 and 7 March 1994.
TELARC CD-80372
[77. 35]
Error processing SSI file

The name Schoenberg will have many reaching for the off-button before the first chord, but note the subtitle of this disc (‘The Romantic Music of Arnold Schoenberg’) and there will be no cause to. But anyway for how much longer are we going to find the music of a man born when the nineteenth century still had a quarter of its length to run too difficult to understand? Copland observed that Schoenberg was still a part of the nineteenth century, while the composer himself regarded his music as ‘a reconciliation of the styles of Brahms and Wagner’, never a truer word as far as these two works are concerned. Verklärte Nacht, or Transfigured Night, was originally conceived as chamber music for string sextet, and dashed off in three weeks in the heat of inspiration. He later revised it twice for string orchestra. It’s based on a poem by Richard Dehmel, part of one called Two People. It tells of a man whose partner has conceived a child by another man, but through his compassionate forgiveness their world becomes transfigured. Schoenberg himself had fallen in love in 1899, with the sister Mathilde of his mentor Alexander Zemlinsky, and after two years he married her. Premiered in 1903, the audience was shocked, probably more by the story rather than the music, which is Wagner with lashings of Richard Strauss. The observation ‘it sounds as if someone had smeared the score of Tristan while it was still wet’ is too harsh. Schoenberg and his bride moved to Berlin in 1901 and it was Strauss himself who encouraged the younger man to compose music for Pelléas et Mélisande, the play by Maeterlinck, which Debussy had coincidentally just completed (its premiere took place in Paris in 1902). Schoenberg chose a purely orchestral work rather than an opera, and scored it lavishly for 64 strings, 17 woodwinds, 18 brass, and two harps. Here again we are in the world of star-crossed lovers, and the same D minor key as it happens, with a rough four-movement structure.

The composer once said, ‘My music is not modern, it’s only badly played’. Well not here it isn’t. The players do huge justice to the wide range of effects, tonal colours and palette of emotions. The passionate string playing in Verklärte Nacht does this not very well-known American orchestra great credit, while the textures of the full orchestra in Pelléas et Mélisande are stylishly lush in the love music and skittish in the third movement ‘scherzo’. Yoel Levi’s grasp of the whole is riveting and clearly structured, and while Schoenberg may have only asked ‘that my melodies should be known and whistled’, this disc does its very best to grant him his wish.

Christopher Fifield


Return to Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.