This Naxos reissue of music recorded mainly in 2000 and originally released on Koch in the USA continues this great "complete works" series. As with the rest of the recently-released Naxos CDs, we benefit from great sonics, so necessary with the wide dynamic range found in much of Schoenberg's work.
Here we have the really quite pretty Chamber Symphony # 2 and the rather spooky Die gluckliche Hand, the fourth movement of which is quite scary! The remainder of the disc is made up with the Wind Quintet, a virtuoso atonal piece that I understand to be very difficult to play.
The CD comes with the usual excellent notes from Mr Craft and I look forward to the next instalment eagerly.
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Overall this is an excellent performance of Die Gluecklche Hand. Mark Beesley has the notes and the dynamic range and sings in tune (sadly, these essentials can't be taken for granted nowadays), and though occasionally his delivery of the text lacks emotional connection, he gives a pretty sound reading. The chorus, though rather quiet, is also clear and accurate, and the performance has admirable coherence and drive - one hardly feels the absence of action and scenery. The Wind Quintet isn't so satisfying here. Of course it is a cruelly hard work, and the players make a valiant effort to keep it to somewhere near the composer's metronome marks, with occasional loss of clarity in the faster passages. The general impression however is rather deadpan. This matters most in the third movement, where there are no bouncy rhythms or acerbic textures to grab the attention, and I found it, frankly, rather tedious; I would be surprised if this is Schoenberg's fault. I don't know the Chamber Symphony well enough to comment on the performance and I don't possess a score. Despite the opus number (38) it appears to be early Schoenberg reworked, rather than a fully mature composition. An attractive-sounding piece, nonetheless.