One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger



AmazonUK   AmazonUS


Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
String Sextet from Capriccio (1942) [9:26]
Alban BERG (1885-1935)
Piano Sonata in B minor, op. 1 (arranged for String Sextet by Heime Müller) (1907, 2003) [12:16]
Arnold SCHÖNBERG (1874-1951)
Verklärte Nacht (1899) [28:58]
Artemis Quartet (Natalia Prischepenko, Heime Müller, violins; Volker Jacobsen, viola, Eckart Runge, cello); Members of the Alban Berg Quartet (Thomas Kakuska, viola; Valentin Erben, cello).
rec. WDR Radio, Cologne, December 2002.
VIRGIN 0946 335130 2 [51:02] 


Richard Strauss composed his final opera, Capriccio, between 1939 and 1942. It was a time of great turmoil, and one might wonder why Strauss chose to compose a work that was a commentary on aesthetics at a time of such crisis and danger. Was he wallowing in escapism? Perhaps a more correct conclusion might be that he was attempting at all costs to preserve the world that he had known for his entire life; to hold fast to the beauty and grace that was being destroyed all around him.

The sextet performed here is unusual in that it is a chamber work intended to be a part of an opera. It is indeed theatrical in a sense, and its inclusion in the drama well explains its brevity. Nonetheless, it is a work of great beauty and works well standing on its own merits. Both ensembles represented here come with fine reputations and many accomplishments to their credit, and they do not disappoint. This is warm, lush playing with a clear sense of form and structure and tremendous rhythmic integrity. I will however, continue to preach against the sniffing and snorting in which so many string players indulge. It is clearly audible in this recording, and I find it maddeningly annoying. 

Berg’s Piano Sonata is perhaps the most interesting work here in this transcription. His op. 1, Berg composed this sonata at the end of his studies with Schönberg, and considered it to be his first mature effort. It is full of remarkable counterpoint. Harmonically, it is a harbinger of Berg’s atonal works, but there are still interesting and striking sonorities to be heard. The separation of the voices enabled by this string arrangement illustrates just how thorough Berg’s knowledge of counterpoint was. Beautifully played, this performance was a revelation, and made me instantly run to the shelf to hear the original piano version again.

Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht is one of his two great contributions to the romantic literature (along with Gurrelieder). Based on Richard Dehmel’s poem about a couple remaining together in spite of the woman being pregnant with another man’s child, this is a work of deep emotion. The composer does not attempt to give a complete musical depiction of each line of the poem, but rather sets up an aural backdrop to the story. Again, this is a very strong performance, full of the sweep and grandeur one would expect from such hyper-Mahlerian music.

In all this is an extremely satisfying disc and is worth its price just for the Berg. Played to perfection, I can even overlook the occasional breath snort and find this to be a most enjoyable program.

Kevin Sutton 


AmazonUK   AmazonUS


We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

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.