Schoenberg: Concerto for String Quartet

Schoenberg: Concerto for String Quartet

by Robert Craft
     
 

In a program that emphasizes the diversity of Arnold Schoenberg's music, the biggest surprise for many listeners will come at the outset, with his Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra. This uncharacteristically high-spirited piece is among Schoenberg's least-known works, making this fine recording all the more valuable; it's largely a transcription of a Concerto… See more details below

Overview

In a program that emphasizes the diversity of Arnold Schoenberg's music, the biggest surprise for many listeners will come at the outset, with his Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra. This uncharacteristically high-spirited piece is among Schoenberg's least-known works, making this fine recording all the more valuable; it's largely a transcription of a Concerto Grosso by Handel, but Schoenberg also put a lot of himself into the final product. Even if the melodies sound Baroque, the orchestration is kaleidoscopically modern, and every now and again the quartet of soloists broaches some harmonies that would have had Handel scratching his head. The Fred Sherry String Quartet manages to conquer the incredible difficulty of the solo parts while still sounding like they're truly enjoying themselves. The other works featured here -- the second volume of Robert Craft's Schoenberg collection for Naxos -- represent key moments of the composer's earlier career. From the Romantic, panoramic Gurre-Lieder, the rapturous "Song of the Wood Dove" (in a chamber ensemble version arranged in 1923) is sung by mezzo-soprano Jennifer Lane, who also solos in Schoenberg's Book of the Hanging Gardens, a song cycle that finds the composer reveling in the expressive freedom of his increasingly atonal style. Lane, too, revels in this music's expressivity; rarely have the Hanging Gardens sounded so transfixingly beautiful. Most familiar here is the Suite for Piano (1921-23), one of Schoenberg's first and most gratifying essays using the 12-tone method. The Baroque dance forms that structure this Suite provide a link forward to the Concerto, one of the many connections this program forges despite the apparent variety of its contents. As a final bonus, you can listen to Schoenberg's own heavily accented English in a radio broadcast interview from 1949.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
Robert Craft is a true believer in the music of Schoenberg. He has been conducting it for more than 50 years and he has been recording it for nearly that long. Aging listeners may recall Craft's pioneering Columbia recordings. Younger listeners may recall his unfinished series of recording for Koch. This disc is the second in Craft's most recent series of Schoenberg recordings for Naxos. It features the cheerful and lighthearted "Concerto for string quartet and orchestra," one of Schoenberg's least-known and least-characteristic works, in a bright and ebullient performance by the Fred Sherry String Quartet and the New York Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble. Following that is a funny and funky performance of Schoenberg's "Suite for piano" by Christopher Oldfather. The rest of the disc is devoted to Schoenberg's music for mezzo soprano sung by Jennifer Lane, a strangely sensual "Book of the Hanging Gardens," and a darkly tragic "Lied der Waldtaube." As a bonus track, Craft has included a six-and-a-half minute conversation with Arnold Schoenberg, a lovely exchange between the aged composer and his young fan. The sound throughout is clear and crisp, except, of course, for the 1949 conversation, which is close and a bit fuzzy but all the more evocative for that. Anyone who loves Schoenberg's music would love this disc.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/18/2005
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313252022
Rank:
273411

Tracks

  1. Concerto for string quartet & orchestra (after Handel's Concerto Grosso, Op.6/7)  - Arnold Schoenberg  - Arnold Schoenberg  -  20th Century-Fox Symphony Orchestra  -  Keith Anderson  - Robert Craft  - Egon Wellesz  - Stefan George  -  Fred Sherry String Quartet  - Ulrich Osterloh
  2. Suite for Piano, Op. 25  - Arnold Schoenberg  - Arnold Schoenberg  -  Keith Anderson  - Robert Craft  - Christopher Oldfather  - Egon Wellesz  - Stefan George  - Ulrich Osterloh
  3. Gurrelieder, oratorio for 5 soloists, reciter, chorus & orchestra: Lied der Waldtaube  - Arnold Schoenberg  - Arnold Schoenberg  -  20th Century-Fox Symphony Orchestra  -  Keith Anderson  - Robert Craft  - Jennifer Lane  - Egon Wellesz  - Stefan George  - Ulrich Osterloh
  4. The Book of the Hanging Gardens, cycle of songs (15) for voice & piano, Op. 15  - Arnold Schoenberg  - Arnold Schoenberg  -  Keith Anderson  - Robert Craft  - Jennifer Lane  - Christopher Oldfather  - Egon Wellesz  - Stefan George  - Ulrich Osterloh
  5. A Conversation with Arnold Schoenberg  - Spoken Word  - Arnold Schoenberg  -  Keith Anderson  - Egon Wellesz  - Stefan George  - Ulrich Osterloh

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