MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

CD: Crotchet AmazonUK AmazonUS

Alban BERG (1885-1935)
Three Orchestral Pieces, Op. 6 (1914/15) [19:45]
Violin Concerto (1935) [25:36]
Lulu-Suite (1934) [34:13]
Sieben frühe Lieder (1905/08) [15:25]
Piano Sonata, Op. 1 (1907/08) [12:29]
Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 5 (1913) [7:47]
Wozzeck (1925) - Act III Interlude [3:35]
Lyric Suite (1925/26) [27:11]
see end of review for performance details
EMI CLASSICS GEMINI 3817712 [79:46 + 66:51]
Experience Classicsonline

The Three Orchestral Pieces is a tremendously complex score. It poses high problems of balance for the conductor, despite Berg’s notational help in the form of Haupt- and Nebenstimmen (principal and subsidiary lines). In a sense this post-Mahlerian, with the second movement entitled “Reigen” (“Round Dance”) and a March as finale - the first movement is simply marked as “Prelude”. The piece opens with a gesture that what was to become a modernist cliché, the music beginning from nothing, percussion murmurings, before finally being “born”. It was hardly a cliché at the time of composition and Metzmacher has his excellent orchestra play with a real sense of discovery. The second movement does indeed contain the essence of the dance, and the finale is here a true March, and a nightmarish one at that. The Bambergers play as if their lives depended on it. Occasionally some detail is lost, but that seems to be more the fault of the recording than the conductor.

Frank-Peter Zimmermann’s 1990 account of the Violin Concerto is technically competent and well recorded. The conductor, Gianluigi Gelmetti, does a fine job of isolating the main and subsidiary lines (Haupt and Nebenstimmen), and the recording quality itself supports him in this. The opening of the second movement, which should be cataclysmic in impact, is here just strong. Zimmermann deals well with the violin’s difficult lines immediately thereafter, under which the orchestra intones the sinister Hauptrhythmus. As one listens to the performance, one becomes aware of the musician’s goal. They have the end clearly in sight. En route, there is a real feeling of partnership between soloist and conductor - listen to how Zimmermann accompanies the orchestrally intoned Carinthian folksongs, and to how the flowerings of the chorale are managed.  

Zimmermann’s Violin Concerto was originally coupled with the Stravinsky Violin Concerto - Perlman famously coupled these two works as well - and the Ravel Tzigane. My top recommendation for this piece remains Anne-Sophie Mutter (CSO/Levine on DG) but the present Zimmermann view is as solid as one can imagine for this piece. Of vital interest, of course, is the Krasner version, conducted by Webern on Testament.

The Lulu-Suite (sometimes also known as the Lulu-Symphonie) is given a beautifully sensitive performance by Rattle and his Birmingham ensemble. Rattle is very alive to the half-lights of the quarter-hour first movement (Rondo: Andante und Hymne). Arleen Augér is in fabulous form for the “Lied der Lulu”, her excursions into Queen of the Night territory miraculously managed. The final movement’s climax is not really as powerful as I would like, although the warm recording renders Rattle’s attempt faithfully. Rattle’s original coupling was an inspired one, by the way: Berg Lulu-Suite, Schoenberg Op. 16 and Webern Op. 6 (CDC7 49857-2).

Sune Bundegaard is the perfect soloist for the Seven Early Songs. The composer Matthias Pintscher is also a fine conductor (see review of a Barbican concert with the BBCSO). “Die Nachtigall”, the third song, is particularly beautiful in this account. Bundegaard’s voice is wonderfully free, and Pintscher accompanies with a delicate tracery of thematic fragments. If the final “Sommertage” could glow more, this remains an immensely satisfying reading.

Another early work, the Piano Sonata, is given a rather disappointing reading by Peter Donohoe, whose directness robs the music of its exploratory nature and even the harmonies of their perfume. The actual piano sound is good, but under Donohoe’s fingers the climax threatens to disintegrate and is laborious. Infinitely more subtle is Sabine Meyer and Lars Vogt’s ephemeral performance of the Op. 5 pieces for clarinet and piano. These are live performances, something I guessed before checking out the booklet, such is the spontaneity of utterance. The explosive nature of the final piece, and its heightened contrasts, are particularly honoured. One of the highlights of the set, without a doubt.

Metzmacher’s Wozzeck interlude is good without being overwhelming. Note the booklet announces this as a live performance, then gives a string of dates for an excerpt that lasts less than four minutes!. Ending with the Alban Berg Quartet’s Lyric Suite is a shrewd move, though. The ABQ’s excellence has never been in doubt, and this is their home turf. Along with the clarinet pieces, this forms one of the set’s two high points. The ABQ’s confidence is beyond criticism, as is their unfailing understanding of Berg’s highly tensile but also highly refined emotional language. The refined, airy writing of the third movement (allegro misterioso) and the penultimate Presto delirando are particularly spectacular in its effect. The recording is exemplary from all angles. Tremendous - this account alone makes the purchase price well spent.

Booklet notes by Matthew Rye are brief (less than two CD-sized pages). As this is presumably pitched on some level as an introduction to Berg, given the price-point, the listener would surely appreciate greater detail, or a surer helping hand. In presenting a conspectus over two discs that effectively spans Berg’s creative output (‘effectively’ because, although the twofer includes the Sieben frühe Lieder, there were literally hundreds of earlier songs) there are inevitably omissions - most obvious here are the String Quartet, Op. 3 and the Altenberg-Lieder, Op. 4. Worth investigating, though.

Colin Clarke 

Performance details
Three Orchestral Pieces
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra
rec. 12-15 May, 22-23 September 1995 (location unspecified)

Violin Concerto
Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin) Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra/Gianluigi Gelmetti
rec. Villa Berg, September 3-5, 1990


Arleen Augér (soprano) City of Brimingham Symphony Orchestra/Simon Rattle
rec. Arts Centre, University of Warwick in December 1987, April 1988

Sieben frühe Lieder

Sune Bundegaard (soprano) Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Matthias Pintscher
rec. Danish Radio Concert Hall, Copenhagen, 20-21 April 2004

Piano Sonata
Peter Donohoe
rec. No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London, 10 February and 12, 21 May 1989

Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano
Lars Vogt (piano); Sabine Meyer (clarinet)
rec. live Heimbach “Spannungen” Festival, 9-11 September 2002


Hamburg State Philharmonic Orchestra/Ingo Metzmacher
rec. live Hamburg State Opera, 27 & 30 September, 3, 6 & 9 November 1998

Lyric Suite
Alban Berg Quartet
rec. Evangelische Kirche, Seon, Switzerland, April 1992.


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review 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.