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Schoenberg: Piano Concerto; Berg; Webern [CD]

Alban Berg Quartett Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £13.25 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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For over thirty 30 years the Alban Berg Quartett has performed regularly in music capitals and major festivals throughout the world. They have their own concert series at the Vienna Konzerthaus (where they made their debut in 1971 and where they are now Honorary Members), at the Royal Festival Hall London, (where they are Associate Artists), at the Opera Zurich, the Theatre des ... Read more in Amazon's Alban Berg Quartett Store

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Schoenberg: Piano Concerto; Berg; Webern + Schoenberg: Violin Concerto / Sibelius: Violin Concerto op.47
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Product details

  • Performer: Mitsuko Uchida
  • Orchestra: The Cleveland Orchestra
  • Conductor: Pierre Boulez
  • Composer: Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Anton Webern
  • Audio CD (12 Mar 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Philips Classics
  • ASIN: B000058BGZ
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,848 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Concerto For Piano, Op.42 - Schoenberg
2. Variations, Op.27 - Webern
3. Three Piano Pieces, Op.11 - Schoenberg
4. Six Little Piano Pieces, Op.19 - Schoenberg
5. Piano Sonata, Op.1 - Berg

Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

Anyone who thinks 12-note serialism is hard on the brain and painful to the ears should listen to the outstanding Schoenberg: Piano Concerto from Mitsuko Uchida. Here are its three great exponents--Schoenberg, the original master, and his two first pupils, Webern and Berg--and you couldn't wish for a more sustained feast of beauty. For this quality, of course, we have the pianist herself to thank: Uchida's trademark fastidiousness was never better employed. When you think her playing is at its softest possible level, she takes it even softer, so that the gentle thudding of the hammers falling back into their beds becomes part of the experience. Schoenberg's early pieces are intimate gems, and his concerto is a majestic comment on wartime realities. Webern's variations reveal him in his visionary guise. Berg's sonata--which still half-dwells in the realm of 19th-century tonalism--is marked by a mellow lyricism. And despite their manifest individualities, all three composers here speak the same pianistic language: in Uchida it has its best conceivable interpreter. --Michael Church

Product Description

I will ship by EMS or SAL items in stock in Japan. It is approximately 7-14days on delivery date. You wholeheartedly support customers as satisfactory. Thank you for you seeing it.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ethereal Atonality.... 27 Oct 2008
By Adamos
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I hesitated before buying this CD, having too often found Boulez a little too cold and clinical in this music. Now that I have bought it, I can't praise it enough. True, it lacks some of the emotional warmth of (both of) Brendel's recordings and Kubelik, in the latter of the two, finds a Romantic richness to this dark work. But Uchida and Boulez take a different and equally effective approach that is, for me, ethereal. There's no lack of passion, but at the same time there is a translucent quality to their playing, piano and orchestra wholly in sympathy with each other.

That ethereal quality really comes through in the solo pieces by Schoenberg and Webern, and a revelatory account of the Kleine Klavierstucke, op. 19. The Webern Variations are superb and if I say I prefer Zimerman's reading (part of Boulez's complete works of Webern on DG) that is not to deter anyone from buying this disc.

I had at first a slight reservation about Uchida's performances of the Berg, again finding it just a little lacking in warmth - Berg was always the most Romantic of these three - but Uchida finds much in this relatively short, but utterly dense piece, and the more I listen to it the more convinced I am that she's 'got it right', or at least has something very real and very personal to say about this music.

So, overall, a five star performance and I have only one complaint: that she didn't record the Suite, op.25 , or the op. 23 pieces, as well.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Concerto 24 Nov 2008
Format:Audio CD
The marvellous Hyperion recordings released recently of Romantic piano Concertos has been full of many hidden gems, but come the 20th century we find... very little. It is as if World War I put a stop to that 'style' of music. Thank goodness, then, that Schoenberg composed this piece. It is one of the few really good piano concertos to come out of the 20th century.

There is a strong feeling of a composer attempting to ressurect a form of the past, but it is indeed exhilerating music, quite ethereal as another reviewer has written. In the hands of Uchida and Boulez it becomes wonderful. Once I put the stereotype of 'atonal' music aside and once I embraced this particular type of music, I discovered myself really enjoying a quite different and beautiful sound world.

Uchida is equally good in the other works recorded here. The Berg sonata is full of strength and vigour whilst the other Schoenberg pieces are performed tenderly and with great understanding. For the Webern I really do prefer the Pollini recording. Uchida plays it rather differently: more hesitantly and softly, (nice in its own way) but I miss the stark purity of Pollini.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent rendition of Schoenberg's Piano Concerto 30 May 2001
By "janus_kreisler_sachs" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Alfred Brendel has done three recordings of Schoenberg's Piano Concerto, and I own two of them (the DG one with Kubelik and the much later one on Philips, the latter nla). I previously thought Brendel's latest recording (with Gielen at the podium) to be the last word concerning this concerto, but I was wrong. Uchida and Boulez are much more fiery, employing a very wide spectrum of dynamics and articulation (which Schoenberg's scores demand). I thought the first movement was a bit sluggish at first, but it works beautifully, and the more contrapuntal variations are more clearly focussed because of the added spaciousness (though not even Boulez's legenday ear could clarify the very thick textures of some passages). The second movement has a greater sense of angst and conflict than Brendel and Gielen, and the third movement more pain. Brendel and Gielen are more playfully nonchalant in the last movement. Uchida and Boulez seem to portray the movement as having an eerie undurcurrent, as if the troubles of the second and third movements are still kept in mind.
The solo piano items are also very good, though I have some reservations. It surprises me that Uchida executes a crescendo instead of the printed decrscendo in one passage of Op. 11 No. 1 (Uchida is usually very faithful to the score). But Op. 11 No. 3 is incredibly intense, more so than the recordings by Gould or Pollini (though Pollini's recording is on the whole very good). Op. 19 is performed with utmost sensitivity and warmth -- the bells of the last piece are exquisitely voiced and controlled. Webern's Variations are also warmly expressive -- the third movement's closing variation seems to disappear into the ether (as it should), but the second movement is rather slow, diminshing the sense of manic energy that it should have. Uchida's performance of Berg's Sonata is one of the finest ever recorded. She takes Berg's numerous tempo changes to heart and follows them more closely than any other recording I've listened to (compare Pollini, for example). The result is very intense yet also very coherent, as it should be.
Those of you who love these works (as I do) should not hesitate. This is the best recording of Schoenberg's Piano Concerto so far.
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among Uchida's Best 27 Dec 2004
By Jeffrey G. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
A little perspective: I am a 21-year old pianist who has made it his obligation in the past couple of years to thoroughly internalize Schoenberg's Op. 11 and 19, both of which are found on this CD. I am a stickler for following every little marking Schoenberg wrote, but I see a lot of room for creativity, too. My reference recordings have been those of Charles Rosen and Maurizio Pollini, both of which I hold in high esteem for their clean precision and abstract imagery. For the Berg sonata, I am partial to Maria Yudina's exuberant (and hard to find) recording. For the Webern variations, Richter's live performance in Vienna is my favorite. The Concerto is new to me, but I pulled out some recordings from the library to compare it to - Gould, Brendel, Ax, Peter Serkin.

Besides this disc, I have also heard Uchida albums of Schubert, Debussy, Mozart, and Chopin. I find that her playing tends to be dark-hued, dimly lit and compellingly non-intuitive, with an amazing command of passages calling for gossamer textures. She can also use impossibly slow tempi at times, coming up with conceptions so expansive that you can stick your head in between the notes. Both of those qualities make her Schoenberg Op. 19 quite different from the others I've heard, but the concept of space is the more striking and memorable. Uchida seems to be convinced that it is the silences in these tiny pieces that gives them their meaning, and long ritards to silence mark almost every bar. Yet the pieces never fall apart, because this is entirely in their character. It's a free interpretation, to be sure, and not one which is 100% faithful, but it's highly sympathetic and quite effective.

Her Op. 11 is more conventionally beautiful, and it's also easily the best I've heard. Never mind the fact that Uchida's hands could never actually span the gigantic chords in the third piece - the editing job is seamless and the musical content is what's important. These readings are far more humane than those of the ferocious Pollini, and the Romantic warmth bleeds through even though the sound is not plush. The influence of Brahms on Schoenberg can clearly be heard through this truly stellar reading.

The Berg Sonata is merely good. There are some beautiful moments and there is some real tension here, but Uchida seems to see this as a conventional sonata-allegro movement packing a few extra pounds around the middle, and that's exactly how it comes off. The Mahlerian drama is muted - I think it takes someone as incandescantly insane as Maria Yudina to really do it justice. Uchida certainly follows Berg's markings more closely than Yudina does, but they're not well enough internalized and so they don't have the effect that they should have.

The Webern is a welcome addition. Too many recordings of Webern have an excessive cleanliness to them which makes them alienating and creepy. This, on the other hand, is warm in the same way that Uchida's Schoenberg Op. 11 is, imbuing this fragmentary, elusive music with a real soul.

The Concerto is the most complex piece on the album, and this performance, by Uchida at the piano with Boulez conducting the Cleveland Orchestra, is the hardest for me to judge. No doubt that it is fearsomely difficult to play, and she does a fantastic job. Every page bristles with new and different difficulties, but these are not merely pianistic bells and whistles like you hear in Rachmaninoff or Prokofiev. The importance Schoenberg puts on each awkwardly placed note makes this piece doubly difficult to execute. Uchida's overall conception is smooth and highly intelligible, with a fantastic sound. The only thing it really lacks is style. The Haydn-esque finale is rather flat compared with any of the other major recordings, such as Gould or Brendel just to name a couple. Although the form is there, the spark of life is a bit weak. Nonetheless this is a high-quality recording.

There is much to recommend this CD, and there is more than enough original contribution here to merit a listen by anyone interested in the Second Viennese School. Go pick it up!
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Work 2 Nov 2001
By Jack Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
If you're a fan of Schoenberg in general, or the piano concerto in particular, there is no need to hesitate with this wonderful recording. This may be my favorite 20th century piece and it's certainly the version I like best. Previously my top contender (now sadly out of print) was Pollini with Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic. It is another great version worth hearing, my only real complaint there being that you can hear the numerous edits where they cut and pasted the performance together. That problem does not exist here with Boulez and Uchida. The piano concerto is a dense, contrapuntal work and Boulez makes sure that none of the parts get lost. Uchida's playing is superb, concise yet emotional. The Cleveland Orchestra shows no strain even in this works difficult passages. The only thing that strikes me negatively about this Uchida/Boulez version is that the second movement seems a bit fast to me but it works.
For those who are not yet fans of Schoenberg, this is a great place to start. I see the piano concerto as the highlight of Schoenberg's 12-tone output, though some would argue for Variations for Orchestra, op. 31. What attracts me to his music is that Schoenberg, more than being the post-Romantic composer evident in his first ten tonal published works, is really a "hyper"-Romantic. Bigger than life, rich orchestrations, sweeping melodies and thick harmony. And though he has the firmest command of music theory, structure, etc., it is the emotional impact of this piece that really shines through for me. By using 12-tone harmony he is able to change moods on a dime and can express horror and delight in ways tonal music cannot.
In addition to the concerto you get hear his first atonal piece, a great op. 11, the short but wonderful op. 19, and the two main solo piano works of his well-known students Webern and Berg. The Webern is a masterwork in balance and is fantastic here. I now own two copies of the Berg and it still doesn't strike me, but perhaps in time.
This is a great cd.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Matter of Taste 4 Nov 2006
By David Cisek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I entirely agree with the previous reviewer. I can't talk about this music technically. What I do like about the dodecaphonic music of Schoenberg (and Berg and Webern) is, unlike music written strictly in keys, the feeling of gliding with it across variations of a landscape and touching down at times to take another stride. This piece was my accidental introduction to serial music and I have returned to it over decades to discover why and how it so transfixed me. I drifted from recording to recording until I realized the glide and stride of the experience. To my mind after years of reading about what goes on in serial music, those touch-downs must be those places where my ear hears tonal moments--after all, how can it not? And then striding, gliding, dancing with Ms Uchida in partnership with the orchestra across mosiacally shifting impressions, at times poignant and dolorous, at others charming, ebullient and delightful, as wines can sometimes be. It doesn't leave one humming, nor does one finally, entirely touch-down. Not an objective or technical appraisal, but pleasure, sometimes, is a knowledge difficult to withold--and articulate.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars straight empowered Schoenberg, solos?? don't know yet 8 Feb 2008
By scarecrow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I'm not familiar with Brendel's Schoenberg "Piano Concerto", but Boulez has a special vision for Schoenberg. Listen to his "Moses and Aaron", sharp, cleanly impassioned, razor-sharp edges, provincial the way Bach is played, purely functional, unadorned phrases, and musical shapes. Uchida as well brings a controlled passion to the work, not compromising the work's content in any way. In fact that is a dangerous trap of over-determining Schoenberg, especially the music he wrote in exile, as this Concerto. The darkest clouds of Europa and the globe all around art and the humanity in many ways is inside this work. Schoenberg had renewed his interest in Judaism, where some actually criticized him for doing so,coming back to the fold too late, after living a life of assimilation. Most German Jews considered themselves German first, Jews second until of they were montrously betrayed. All this history is not insignificant and has direct bearing on the work, this Concerto,to experience it from this perspective, of a man in confusion, where he has literally not much to say anymore,certainly dodecaphonic innovation is over, he could not even complete his "Moses and Aaron", did not find a solution to it.Now relying on tried and tested musical genres, known shapes to hide within, to escape to this comfort zone of tradition. The criticism against Schoenberg, by Judaic scholars is all predictably in retrospect, having the luxury of gazing comfortably backwards, retrogressively. Put yourselves in his place and then see how to respond, or not respond. He was firstly an artist, with a composer's temperment hardly the strength for politics, that he also had little capacity for and came too late. There are retrogressive elements in this Concerto, the abandonment and fulfillment of hope for humanity. Uchida and Boulez certainly comprehend this, with there functionally straight empowered reading.Boulez knows just how to balance chords while rendering rhythmic force impeccably, always moving forward aggresively to mount a trajectory for snarling trombones, and screeching wistful strings, industrial-like wind chords, with the soloist,quite independent,pummeling the piano's resonance; pondering questions, going- gesturing forward in thought.

Uchida's solo Schoenberg I found more problematical.I have lived with Glenn Gould first then Pollini as a lifeworld. She does not have the emotive reserve of Pollini, (and I haven't heard Richter who had played the Webern "Variations" in Vienna.) Uchida goes after the music much of the time and makes it strong where it needed be. You can hide these excursions within the Schoenberg where if you have Brahms within your conception of timbre and shape of phrase in your field of vision, it may work,The late Sir Georg Solti also played Schoenberg within a Brahms-perspective. This works, but it is too predictable an approach and creates listening pleasure but little excitement.And the expressionist orchestration gets pummeled and made one-dimensional. I prefer leaner,more Bach-like dimensions of timbre in Schoenberg, where the exposed contrapuntal shapes of his music become empowered by the modern orchestration.Boulez certainly does this consistently.

The fact that Schoenberg did not understand the resonance of the piano, attests to his genius, for this Opus 11 resonance is incredibly powerful dark, and penumbral, raw at times, unfinished at times, and ponderous. Provincial block-chordal accompaniment is what I mean here, nothing adorned, although Schoenberg had his own means of adornment, with broken chords in thirds, and fourth-chords. She does much better with the "Six Short Pieces",allowing the short shards,particles and fragments of timbre,to speak for themselves, something the next generation certainly listened to these more than any other Schoenberg. Miniatures you cannot deal with roughly, you need to simply state the materials and the discourse has ended.

The Webern "Variations" has more problems for me perhaps not for Uchida,who again makes heavy,makes strident, makes noises where there needed be, as in the fist movement. It is also too slow, for the reoccuring mirror two-sixteenths shapes,minor ninths and major sevenths become forgotten if slowed at the tempo she plays them. You need to comprehend the emotive arc, the durational agenda of the entire work as it is perhaps one single movement. The Third movement also made less sense to me, the structures were not a-matter-of-factly played. Webern should have some refined mystery to it,yet not indulgent with some sense of a private world, introspective looking, for an inner life. This was all that was left in Nazi Germany. Ffreedom existed,only within oneself in private realms of thought and discourse, the way the current Leipzig Painters render a private(romanticized) lifeworld today unexplainable,opaque yet filled with icons and places for contemplation with history past, and where it has past them by without explanation.

The Berg Sonata had even more problems,again this Sonata works by understatement, withoutrelative authority,or overwhelming conviction, the quasi-tonal meanderings have more interest when not fitted within the Bach-like frames we previously experienced.Berg then has some mystery to it. He was the most lyrical and backward looking philososphically of these Vienna composers. Trying to make this modest piano solo sound rotund,larger than it already is not and taking on larger dimensions does not work in Berg. His entire life he favored, had an affinity for the chamber realm, even in his two innovative operas, the orchestra is treated at its most effective, when reduced down to chamber projections of accompaniment again with strict variations and sonata forms chamber-ized, fragmenting timbres down to short shapes and sizes for contemplation. Granted, the "Piano Sonata" Opus one is an early work without structural sophistication,nor the intervallic meanderings of his later music,but the Berg aesthetic is there.

I should think more about Uchida's Second Viennese readings, she is a powerful lady, with an intellect of depth and persuasion, with a comprehensive performative constitution. It needs another thought after some time perhaps.
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