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Webern: Orchestral Music [CD]

Anton Webern , Takuo Yuasa , Ulster Orchestra Audio CD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 5.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Ulster Orchestra
  • Conductor: Takuo Yuasa
  • Composer: Anton Webern
  • Audio CD (3 Dec 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B00005U4W7
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 132,336 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Passacaglia, Op. 110:26Album Only
Listen  2. 5 Movements, Op. 5 (version for string orchestra): Heftig bewegt, Tempo I 2:520.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. 5 Movements, Op. 5 (version for string orchestra): Sehr langsam 2:150.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. 5 Movements, Op. 5 (version for string orchestra): Sehr lebhaft0:420.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. 5 Movements, Op. 5 (version for string orchestra): Sehr langsam 1:420.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. 5 Movements, Op. 5 (version for string orchestra): In zarter bewegung 3:340.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. 6 Pieces, Op. 6: Langsam 1:030.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. 6 Pieces, Op. 6: Bewegt 1:160.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. 6 Pieces, Op. 6: Massig0:560.89  Buy MP3 
Listen10. 6 Pieces, Op. 6: Sehr massig 4:140.89  Buy MP3 
Listen11. 6 Pieces, Op. 6: Sehr langsam 2:330.89  Buy MP3 
Listen12. 6 Pieces, Op. 6: Langsam 1:550.89  Buy MP3 
Listen13. 5 Pieces, Op. 10: Sehr ruhig und zart0:410.89  Buy MP3 
Listen14. 5 Pieces, Op. 10: Lebhaft und zart bewegt0:330.89  Buy MP3 
Listen15. 5 Pieces, Op. 10: Sehr langsam und ausserst zart 1:430.89  Buy MP3 
Listen16. 5 Pieces, Op. 10: Fliessend, ausserst zart0:330.89  Buy MP3 
Listen17. 5 Pieces, Op. 10: Sehr fliessend 1:050.89  Buy MP3 
Listen18. Symphony, Op. 21: Ruhig, schreitend 5:280.89  Buy MP3 
Listen19. Symphony, Op. 21: Variationen 2:310.89  Buy MP3 
Listen20. Variations, Op. 30 6:570.89  Buy MP3 

Product Description

These works on this disc of orchestral music by Webern take us from 1908 through to 1940, during which period the composer progressively compressed his musical argument into the briefest time-frames. The longest single movement here is the Passacaglia at around ten minutes. Elsewhere come the often fleeting yet still deftly coloured movements of the Six Pieces Op.6 and then the Five Pieces Op.10, none of which lasts longer than 1'44". These works also encompass Webern's journey from the limits of tonality to the vastnesses of 12-tone outer-space. Some passionately identify with the purity of Webern's ideas, others claim they're more about maths than music and the human soul. Just how human it all seems depends of course on the quality of performances--the acute ear for sound and musicality of a Boulez or a Karajan dispel doubts. Here Yuasa and the Ulster Orchestra score highly, and there are many fine solo contributions. The dramatic episodes in the Passacaglia are delivered with the utmost force within a well-controlled and shaped reading, while the Five Movements and the Six Pieces are especially atmospheric. Recorded sound is good, if a fraction on the lively side. An economical way of sampling the Second Viennese School. --Andrew Green

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Webern on Naxos 19 July 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This disk had all the Webern orchestral pieces (without choir or vox). Just what I wanted.

There's a blunt striding confidence to Yuasa's interpretation that's kind of thrilling although some people will compare it unfavourably with the more fastidous Boulez and Craft approach.

It was Stravinsky who described the pieces as dazzling diamonds and he is probably responsible for the way most conductors and commentators seem to view Webern. A diamond implies something almost too rare and precious; something that should be handled carefully with clean white gloves and slowly, meticulously considered for all of it's fascinatingly immaculate facets. Grubbier fingers must not sully the purity. What do they really know or care? Let the rabble marvel at such priceless arcane perfection through the security glass.

Unfortunately diamonds are also cold, hard and dead - and Webern was a romantic character. With a passion for poetry and instinctively drawn to one radical philosophy after another, I think his intention was utterly opposite to the crystaline funereal characterisation normally given in recordings. What is mistaken for austerity is really vitality and the subtle intricacy is nothing more profound than a glitter to delight us.

There is a common accusation that Webern was just a calculating mathematician but by accident or design Yausa has hit a line that makes Webern accessible and alive. The music on this CD does not sound serial or mathematical or even atonal and I'm going to recommend it.

Unfortunately the disk suffers from an incompetent mastering job which lacks any EQ or compression. The dynamic range zigzags between inaudible and earsplitting and there is serious clipping on the biggest peaks (op6.m4). Listening on headphones is impossible, so ipod users beware.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Post-Romantic Webern 12 April 2002
By Thomas F. Bertonneau - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Takuo Yuasa, conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, takes for granted a judgment that rarely occurs to the advocates of Anton Webern (1883-1945): that Webern was, above all else, a Romantic, as his devotion to the music of Gustav Mahler might have indicated. What's that? Webern, a Romantic? The Romantics (Mahler typifies the phenomenon) worked on a large scale, employing a lavish palette. Well yes, but some of them - Mendelssohn and Schumann, to name but two - also wrote in miniature and excelled at it. Webernian aphorism, usually taken for the very form of the modern in music, has its direct antecedents in the "Songs without Words," "Bagatelles," and "Scenes" of the German mid-Nineteenth Century keyboardists. These pieces seek to evoke intense, shifting, transient emotions and images, as incidentally do Mahler's songs. Webern's Romanticism does not end, then, with his Passacaglia, Opus 1, of 1908; it merely becomes more concentrated, taking the form of brief, but intense atmospherics corresponding with contemporary developments in German poetry. (Indeed, at least half of Webern's oeuvre is vocal or choral, setting verses by poet-contemporaries like Georg Trakl and Hildegard Jone.) Take Webern's Symphony, Opus 21, of 1928; listen carefully to the opening bars. The orchestration should be familiar: strings, horn, and harp - the characteristic instrumentation of the opening Adagio of Mahler's Ninth Symphony. That it could be other than an allusion seems unlikely and since it therefore most probably is, we are entitled to ask, what is the meaning of it? At least one plausible "message" is to remind us that this music, for all its technical erudition and aesthetic compression, is in line with what has come before it, especially the gigantic, emotionally wide-spanned symphonies of Webern's idol, Mahler. The orchestral Variations, Opus 30, from 1940, look back to Brahms, Reger, and Hindemith - and of course to Bach. Yuasa plays both works (rightly) as though they were drenched with the pure distillate of pathos and emotion; this is definitely not the antiseptic Webern of, say, Robert Craft or of Pierre Boulez in his readings for CBS, now Sony. (Boulez's DG remakes are "warmer" than his CBS originals.) Yuasa's program sandwiches the Five Movements for Strings (Opus 5) from 1929, the Six Pieces for Orchestra (Opus 6) from 1909 (revised in 1928), and the Five Pieces for Orchestra (Opus 10) from 1911-13, between the Symphony and the Variations; he takes the Symphony and the Variations as parts of a diptych, a plausible decision considering that Webern originally intended at least two more movements for the Symphony and that the Variations share the Symphony's sound world. The Five Movements, arranged from string quartet originals, are quite moving and rich; they suggest Berg's later Lyric Suite in its string orchestra version. The performance of the Symphony competes with Christoph von Dohnanyi's, with the Cleveland Orchestra on London, for the best on disc; rather than isolated and transient "events," we get musical continuity. Herbert von Karajan played the Symphony notoriously slowly in his DG recording, stretching it out to about a quarter of an hour. Yuasa turns it in at a more "normal" eleven minutes. There is one minor complaint: at a mere fifty-two minutes, the Naxos program runs rather short; the Piano Concerto and the Concerto for Nine Instruments could certainly have been accommodated within the eighty-two minute limit of the format. Nevertheless, this is a fine entry in the Webern column of the CD catalogue, especially considering the bargain price.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Webern 18 Nov 2008
By Max Schmeder - Published on
Format:Audio CD
The other reviewer is correct: the dynamics are extreme, and more so than Webern intended. But the results are hair-raising. Webern's dynamic range in the first movement of the Symphony is never above a forte, yet you'd never know it from the slashing strings in the cavernous "development" section. By contrast, other conductors gingerly highlight bits and pieces, and fail to convey the long arc.

Yet there are some serious problems. The bass clarinet enters a measure too soon at 1:50 (m.22 during the second repeat of the A section leading into B). Why couldn't they clean this up? [EDITORIAL NOTE: I've since read that there is an edition with an error at this measure.] Yuasa also runs roughshod over some of the solos in the second half of the movement - the strange little harp solo at 2:22 (m. 33/34) goes *up* instead of *down*. The harpist gets it right the second time. Why didn't they just do a retake? God knows this is short enough music.

I still prefer Yuasa's robust sound even though it's sloppy at times. It's a refreshing contrast to the standard atomizing whose only merit is exactness. There is that false rumor that his music is "economic," which places emphasis on the wrong aspect of his objectively short works by connoting parsimony instead of their epic quality. A similar belief led to mind-numbing mechanical performances of Bach in the mid-twentieth century.

"..[Webern] inexorably kept on cutting out his diamonds, his dazzling diamonds, the mines of which he had such a perfect knowledge." (Stravinsky)
4 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wide DYNAMIC Range. 5 Jun 2007
By Felipito - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The volume of this recording ranges from barely audible to GLARINGLY LOUD. This makes for uncomfortable listnening.
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