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Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht; Kammersymphonien Nos. 1 & 2
Arnold Schoenberg, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht; Kammersymphonien Nos. 1 & 2
Genre: Classical
 
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CD Details

All Artists: Arnold Schoenberg, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Title: Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht; Kammersymphonien Nos. 1 & 2
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 2
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Release Date: 9/10/1990
Genre: Classical
Styles: Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 028942923324

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CD Reviews

A gentle introduction to Schoenberg...
ewomack | MN USA | 03/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The tonalities and harmonic structures Schoenberg used have the ablity to evoke ineffable emotions. His music never quite veers completely towards the cheerful nor towards the miserable side of the emotional spectrum. A little sunlight here, a dash of shadow there. It's a little moody, and thus open to voluminous interpretations. In nearly the same manner that an abstract impressionist painting may conjure up vastly unique experiences in two viewers, two people listening to the same Schoenberg piece at once will very likely say vastly different things about it. No salient melodies consistently pop out (as in Beethoven or Mozart). And no single mood tends to dominate.

The pieces on this disc demonstrate this aspect of Schoenberg perfectly. Newcomers to his music may find a foothold in the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra's interpretations. They never go too far, get mired in sentimentality, or launch off on wild rides of over emphasized dissonance. Schoenberg's music receives a fair, gimmick free performance here. And one that resonates listen after listen.

"Verklärte Nacht" probably stands as Schoenberg's most famous work. Its sheer beauty and tonality will probably shock first time listeners (who may expect spine curling tone clusters to shoot out from the speakers). Based on a poem of the same name about an illicit pregnancy, the piece rises and falls with the emotions of the text (included in the CD booklet). Some of its stunning passages may induce romantics to swoon (no "atonal revolution" here). Anyone who doubts the listenablity of Schoenberg needs to hear this incredible work. Orpheus, not surprisingly, plays the reworked 1943 version for Chamber Orchestra (though the original piece dates back to 1899).

The two Chamber Symphonies (from 1906 and 1939 respectively) start paddling down the road to the late Schoenberg. Glimpses of the future murmur through the arrangements. Still, nothing as wild as the famous Piano Concerto or the String Trio emerges. What does emerge reveals Schoenberg's gradual widening of western musical tonality. Sounds and emotions unimaginable back in the days of Wagner vibrate off the cochleas and cortex. But it may take a few listens to appreciate the nuances and stratifications built into these works. In the end, they're all beautiful and remarkable. The Second Chamber Symphony even ends on an unmistakably tonal chord of earth shaking power.

Anyone curious about Schoenberg's musical innovations can find a gentle introduction to them here. Nothing on this disc should rankle the ears of hardcore classicists. Quite the contrary, those interested in the fringes and extent of tonality will find much to linger on and think about in these three incredibly well played pieces."
Transfixed by "Transfigured"
ewomack | 06/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"What a GORGEOUS interpretation!
A riveting performance; Orpheus Chamber Orchestra have successfully managed to wear their collective heart on their sleeve AND play this excruciatingly emotional piece without turning it into mush. I can't imagine anyone's not being blown away by it.
Both Chamber Symphonies are beautifully played (I hadn't heard the second prior to purchasing this disk), although some listeners might not find them as accessible as Verklarte Nacht. Please note that I've also recommended Karajan's extraordinary Verklarte Nacht and Peter Eotvos' extremely vivid Chamber Symphony No. 1 (paired with a fabulous Pierrot Lunaire). If your collection demands only a single representation of any of these works, any of these will do, but I'm glad I have them all--the interpretations are so radically different from each other and are of such stellar quality that any threat of redundancy is eliminated."
Orpheus Transfigures Schoenberg
Thomas B Dawkins | 03/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Alright, so the title of the review is corny, forgive me, please. Normally, I prefer the original version of Verklärte Nacht for string sextet over the string orchestra setting, although both were done by Schoenberg so there is no question of authenticity. This is the only rendition of the string orchestra version that brings back what I usually miss from the sextet, and that is the ensemble's closeness. Verklärte Nacht is relentlessly intense up to the shift to D Major (which is, in my opinion, one of the finest modulations in all of classical music), and then broadly exultant for the rest of the work. Usually, a full orchestra will lose a good deal of this in their lack of absolute togetherness, but Orpheus holds it together as well as or better than most sextets. The solo work from the principal strings, especially the all-too-seldomly recognized Nardo Poy, viola, is exemplary.The first Kammersymphonie is presented in its original version for 15 soloists, although Schoenberg later expanded it for a larger orchestra. I will agree that it is not the easiest piece to listen to nor digest, nor is the second Kammersymphonie, however, Schoenberg's precision shines through brightly in both recordings here. One of the distinctions that places Schoenberg near the top of my list of favorite 20th century composers is his intricacy, which is often lost in orchestras with less of a sense of ensemble than Orpheus. Kudos to Mr. Dine, English Horn; Ms. Palma, flute; and the rarely heard Mr. Neidich, e-flat clarinet for adding extra shimmer to this already sterling recording."