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Berio: Orchestral Transcriptions
Luciano Berio, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms
Berio: Orchestral Transcriptions
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1


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Ingenious transcriptions performed a bit tamely by Chailly
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 02/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"All three reviews below express oddball reactions to this very enjoyable CD. Luciano Berio made an art of transcritption, attracted as he was to traditional music, both folk and classical, while being wedded to a modernist idiom. He picks up where Schoenberg left off in his famous transcription of the Brahms first pinao quartet, which in Schoenberg's hands was expanded into the "Brahms Fifth."

Like his predecessor, Berio is fascinated by the unlimited potential of orchestration, and his addition of a multi-color palette to Purcell and Bach is affectionate; a Boccherini slow march gets turned into a full street procession with a brass band. Papageno's second aria gets deconstructed a la Webern, veyr wittily, almost completely disguising the original melody.

The two main works here are, first, "Rendering," Berio's completion of Schubert's sketches for a Tenth Symphony, which are so fragmentary that he has plenty of room for modernist intervention, as he did with the Mahelr Second in Sinfonia. Berio's dreamy interludes are highly effecitve;; this is like a dozing visitation by Schubert's distrubed ghost. It's by far the most we will ever get out of the bits and pieces, in themselves not inspiring, that the composer left behind.

The other major item here is an orchestral transcription of a late Brahms sonata for either viola or clarinet, transformed by Berio into a surprisingly moving clarinet concerto. The solo line remains faithful to the original, while the orchestral part is emotionally amplified, in the mode of Schoenberg's treatment of the piano quartet, very lush and highly colored.

In all, this is exemplary creative use of previous musical materials, a tribute to each composer rather than a hijacking. Chailly and his new Italian orchestra perform everything very well, if a bit tamely, and Decca's sound is impeccable. If only the cover weren't so extremely drab. It misrepresents the high spirits of what's inside."
J. Price | Los Angeles | 10/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am buying this CD on the strength of the Bach-Berio Contrapunctus XIX, transcribed by Luciano Berio from the Art of the Fugue by J.S. Bach. I heard this piece in a live performance as the stunning, spare opening to a recent concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I have only listened to the Bach transcription on this disc but find it excellent, even though it does not capture the color or intensity of the live performance. Berio's transcription of this last piece in the Art of the Fugue is a small masterpiece. According to Maestro Salonen's comments prefacing the L.A. Phil performance, this is a deathbed work that Bach was unable to finish. Berio, rather than anticipate Bach's intentions in completing the fugue, ends the piece where Bach left us, concluding in an eerie, sustained chord spelling B-A-C-H (b flat = H), resulting in an intensely affecting end.

Well, that's about eight minutes out of the program on this disc. I know the remaining works will prove to be excellent as well.