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Schoenberg - Pierrot Lunaire; Chamber Symphony No 1 CD

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Schoenberg - Pierrot Lunaire; Chamber Symphony No 1
  • +
  • Schoenberg: Chamber Symphony No. 2; Die Glückliche Hand; Wind Quintet, Op. 26
  • +
  • Schoenberg: Six Songs for Soprano & Orchestra, Kol Nidrei, Golden Calf
Total price: £17.33
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Product details

  • Conductor: Robert Craft
  • Composer: Arnold Schoenberg
  • Audio CD (26 Feb. 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000MRP1S2
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 174,758 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Herzgewächse, op.20 - Pierrot Lunaire, op.21 - 4 Lieder avec orchestre, op.22 - Symphonie de Chambre n°1, op.9 / Eileen Hulse, sop. - Catherine Wyn-Rogers, mezzo-sop. - Membres du London Symphony Orchestra - Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble - Philharmonia Orchestra - Dir. Robert Craft

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Format: Audio CD
Arnold Schoenberg (1874 - 1951) remains a difficult composer even in his more accessible styles. Yet, his music rewards effort and repeated hearings. Some years ago, the scholar-conductor Robert Craft recorded a great deal of Schoenberg on the Koch International Classics label, and these recordings have been reissued on the budget priced Naxos label. I am finding these recordings an excellent way to focus on Schoenberg.

There are four works on this CD, including three works for voice and orchestra and an instrumental piece, the "Chamber Symphony No. 1" opus 9. The works were composed between 1906 and 1916 and each has its own character. They show a good deal of Schoenberg's development.

The Chamber Symphony No. 1 (1906), performed with Craft and the Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble in a 1998 recording, is the earliest work on this CD. It is a taut, compact work of about 20 minutes in a single movement with five subsections that Schoenberg marked sonata-allegro, scherzo, development, adagio, and recapitulation. The piece is scored for an ensemble of ten winds and five strings. The small ensemble contrasts markedly with the large orchestra used by Strauss, Mahler, and Schoenberg himself in other compositions of the day. The predominance of the winds gives the work a distinctive texture. The work is based throughout on the same thematic material, which is subject to great variation and development in terms of harmony, rhythm, and instrumentation. The tempo changes constantly, and the work has a propulsive feel. Regarded as one of Schoenberg's masterworks, the Chamber Symphony No. 1 combines late romanticism and Schoenberg's developing original style in a most challenging way. The work requires concentrated listening.
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Comment 12 of 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 Oct. 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When discussing the music of Schoenberg it is customary for commentators to focus on the technicalities of his various musical systems, with the emotional and psychological aspects left as an afterthought, if considered at all. Perhaps this is because the content of his music is so darned uncomfortable, it being easier to explain our unease in terms of systems of dissonance rather than those of frank psycho-spiritual pathology. There are many for whom Schoenberg is the bête noire who signalled the end of music worth listening to. I do not happen to agree, but within the rigid parameters of the pre-Freudian psyche they have a valid point. For the Romantics Beauty was Truth, and Will could triumph over pain and despair to win through to it. But for the modernists, and arguably as most explicitly pioneered by Schoenberg, all is relativised. Beauty may have to be sought in ugliness, and what might appear beautiful at first sight might become ugly when examined too closely. Will does not always, indeed frequently does not triumph, and pain and despair are real enemies that can break people irrevocably, and do so with recurrent banality and without any trace of it mattering in a spiritual vacuum. To hear beyond the dissonant syntax of Schoenberg's music, through to its emotional semantic kernel, one must turn to face it on these terms. One must acknowledge that it is full of real pain and real torment that the meagre soul may not be adequate to, and that it really does hurt to listen to, not just because of the technical means chosen, but because of the meaning it is intended to convey. Being great art the message is so much more than just the medium.

The first work on the disc is the three minute wonder, Herzgewäsche of 1911.
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Comment 7 of 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
The first striking element is that the text is long and not at all sung: a rich poetic text dramatically spoken along several totally innovative lines. Three dimensions of the language are used to create vocal music. First the rhythm created with syllables, making them long or short. This is a basic musical element of the language and many poets have used it, even in languages that do not have such a characteristic, very often it is true in songs but also in the stage directions of a play. But such a trait was essential in Shakespeare and was basic in Purcell and Handel. The second element is intonation: Schoenberg uses something that is going to become extremely common later on with the radio. He widely uses high dives and high jumps and all variations in between to create another type of music that is amplified by the first element making the tips of the intonation lines long and thus multiplying the effect. The third element is the force and intensity of each syllable from very weak to very powerful, and this trait is a very common dramatic way to emphasize one's discourse in everyday life. Even without listening to the words we are able to hear that music that is extremely expressive. The instrumental music is then nothing but an accompaniment that also plays on the same outer aspect. It is not a melodious line, certainly not the music of a song since the text is not sung. It is a real accompaniment as it existed for example in the Middle Ages, in the Gregorian and even late Gregorian traditions and polyphonies, with variations in the balance between text and music. At times the music takes over, at other times the text is dominant.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa42ba624) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa42be048) out of 5 stars HERZGEWACHSE & the FOUR ORCHESTRAL SONGS... 29 April 2007
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
.

Although this disc has the "Pierrot curse"--(i.e., nearly every Schoenberg disc seems to include either Pierrot Lunaire, Verklarte Nacht, or the First Chamber Symphony)--it features two of Schoenberg's most exquisite works: Herzgewachse Op. 20, and the Four Orchestral Songs Op. 22, both of which are very rare--(that is, difficult to find on CD). For that reason, this disc is definitely worth having.

.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa44c9ae0) out of 5 stars Exploring the Music of Schoenberg with Robert Craft 17 Mar. 2010
By Robin Friedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Arnold Schoenberg (1874 - 1951) remains a difficult composer even in his more accessible styles. Yet, his music rewards effort and repeated hearings. Some years ago, the scholar-conductor Robert Craft recorded a great deal of Schoenberg on the Koch International Classics label, and these recordings have been reissued on the budget priced Naxos label. I am finding these recordings an excellent way to focus on Schoenberg.

There are four works on this CD, including three works for voice and orchestra and an instrumental piece, the "Chamber Symphony No. 1" opus 9. The works were composed between 1906 and 1916 and each has its own character. They show a good deal of Schoenberg's development.

The Chamber Symphony No. 1 (1906), performed with Craft and the Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble in a 1998 recording, is the earliest work on this CD. It is a taut, compact work of about 20 minutes in a single movement with five subsections that Schoenberg marked sonata-allegro, scherzo, development, adagio, and recapitulation. The piece is scored for an ensemble of ten winds and five strings. The small ensemble contrasts markedly with the large orchestra used by Strauss, Mahler, and Schoenberg himself in other compositions of the day. The predominance of the winds gives the work a distinctive texture. The work is based throughout on the same thematic material, which is subject to great variation and development in terms of harmony, rhythm, and instrumentation. The tempo changes constantly, and the work has a propulsive feel. Regarded as one of Schoenberg's masterworks, the Chamber Symphony No. 1 combines late romanticism and Schoenberg's developing original style in a most challenging way. The work requires concentrated listening.

The next work chronologically is the short song "Herzgewachse" (foliage of the heart) opus 20 (1911) in which Schoenberg set a poem by Maurice Maetterlink. The work is for the combination of soprano, harmonium, celesta and harp. This seldom-heard short work has a demanding vocal line, sung here by coloratura soprano Eileen Hulse in a recording dating from 1994. The work is characterized by its unusual instrumention which Schoenberg uses to the utmost and by the repeated and passionate outbursts late in the piece at the highest ranges of the soprano's register.

One of the most frequently played of Schoenberg's compositions, Pierrot Lunaire (1912) is a setting of 21 poems in three parts scored for voice, piano, flute/piccolo, clarinet/bass clarinet, violin/viola, and cello. The poems were written in French by Albert Giraud but Schoenberg set the German translation by Eric Harleben. It was his first work in a distinctly atonal style. The vocal line is marked Sprecstimme. The line between speech in accordance with notes and singing remains highly ambiguous, with this performance by soprano Anja Silja more on the singing side of the continuum. The recording dates from 1997. The work is declaimed by a Harlequin-like character in three sections which speak of the moon and romance, violence and crime, and a nostalgic journey home. Pierrot Lunaire is a cabaret piece in modernistic, decadent style. There should be no illusion that this music is accessible or easy. Listeners tend to either love or hate this work, and I find myself of the former view.

The final work on the CD is another rarity, the Four Orchestral Songs, opus 22 (1916) scored for soprano and varying collections of instruments featuring the clarinet. The recording with mezzo-soprano Catherine Wyn-Rogers dates from 1993. The first and longest song, "Seraphita" sets a poem by the English writer Ernest Dowson (best-known for his poem "Cynara") in a
German translation by Stephan George. It features a long elaborate introduction played by six clarinets followed by a floridly romantic vocal line. The work comes to a lengthy, elaborate orchestral close with a wide collage of instrumentation and varying timbres. The remaining three songs are settings of poetry by Rilke. This seldom-held music is lyrical in character with romantic vocal lines.

Unfortunately this CD includes neither texts nor translations. Texts only are available on the Naxos website. Schoenberg wanted listeners to concentrate on the music rather than on the poems he set, but the texts would still have added a great deal to this release. Listeners wanting to expand their knowledge of a great but still controversial 20th Century composer will enjoy this CD and its companions by Robert Craft.

Robin Friedman
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa42be5dc) out of 5 stars another fine release of challenging music 3 Sept. 2010
By Ray Barnes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
With respect to the Chamber Symphony No. 1, the orchestration of this, the 1906 Original Version used in this recording, is flute/piccolo (same player), oboe, English horn, E-flat clarinet, clarinet, Bass clarinet, bassoon, Contra-bassoon, two French horns, two violins, viola, cello and double bass.

Personally I think Pierrot Lunaire is an amazing work, combining baroque musical structure with modern instrumental sound and line. It makes great demands on every player. The vocal line in my view seems to combine clarity of exposition with freedom of emotional expression, almost as though the voice was another instrument. The Sprechstimme (song-speech) in my view fits the work. It is eclectic and refreshingly unorthodox. This performance is superb in every way, and well recorded too, where this rich score's detail is clearly heard.

The brief Herzgewachse for coloratura soprano and orchestra, with its stratospheric top notes, is well done too. The Four Orchestral Songs (for mezzo) is easier listening than the first two works, and contains very original scoring. This is a great piece which deserves to be heard more often. The Chamber Symphony No. 1 is a success too, again very well played and recorded. Like Pierrot, it has a feeling of the old and the new being assimilated.

The documentation is once again excellent, although vocal texts are not provided - a link to them is given instead. Another fine cover too, Zimzum by Ulrich Osterloh. This is a great CD for those willing to accept this brilliant music on its own terms.
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