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Schoenberg: Music for Choir

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Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
More than a half-century after his death, Arnold Schoenberg's place in the music history books is secure, even if it may be less so in the concert hall. It's a shame, since much of his music is best grasped upon repeated hearings, but that makes superb performances in well-conceived recordings -- such as this one -- all the more valuable. In their selection of works, Laurence Equilbey and her choral group, Accentus, have clearly set out to dispel the stereotype of Schoenberg as a composer of ugly music who reveled in pure dissonance. Friede auf Erden (heard twice here, first accompanied by orchestra, then in the original version for a cappella chorus) achieves intense ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
More than a half-century after his death, Arnold Schoenberg's place in the music history books is secure, even if it may be less so in the concert hall. It's a shame, since much of his music is best grasped upon repeated hearings, but that makes superb performances in well-conceived recordings -- such as this one -- all the more valuable. In their selection of works, Laurence Equilbey and her choral group, Accentus, have clearly set out to dispel the stereotype of Schoenberg as a composer of ugly music who reveled in pure dissonance. Friede auf Erden (heard twice here, first accompanied by orchestra, then in the original version for a cappella chorus) achieves intense expressiveness by pressing at the boundaries of tonality, similar to portions of Mahler's late symphonies; Accentus does a marvelous job -- especially in the a cappella version -- with the music's tricky harmonies and balances. Schoenberg's Three Folksongs of 1929 reveal a rarely encountered side of the composer, arranging traditional melodies in eloquent (and strictly tonal) form, but the real oddity is a sensitively nuanced choral transcription by Franck Krawczyk of "Farben" (Colors) from the Five Orchestral Pieces. Schoenberg's final work, De Profundis (1950), is one of three other vocal pieces here showing that his technique of 12-tone composition was quite capable of producing music of great power and depth. It might seem strange that in the middle of the disc Accentus turns the stage over to the Ensemble Intercontemperain for Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony, but it's hard to complain about being able to hear such a seminal work -- one of the most accessible and engaging he composed -- performed by this peerless ensemble under Jonathan Nott's precise direction. All told, this is a major release and a well-rounded tribute to Schoenberg's achievements.
All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
This compelling collection of Arnold Schoenberg's choral music works well as a sampler of the composer's varied interests and changing methods, and provides clear examples from the early chromatic and atonal periods to the dodecaphony of the mature masterworks. The two versions of "Friede auf Erden" the 1907 a cappella original and the 1911 version for choir and orchestra, the "Drei Volksliedsätze," and "Verbundenheit" from the "Six Pieces for Male Chorus" represent Schoenberg at his most accessible, while the works from the late Op. 50, "Dreimal tausend Jahre and De Profundis," give a taste of Schoenberg's more challenging twelve-tone applications and arresting declamatory style. Certainly the strangest track, though, is Franck Krawczyk's transcription for double choir of "Farben" from Schoenberg's "Five Pieces for Orchestra," an idea that seems workable in principle, but rather weak in execution; the monochromatic choral parts cannot hope to imitate the shifting wind and string timbres in the orchestral piece, and the forced inhalations and exhalations sound like melodramatic gasping. The chamber choir Accentus and the Ensemble InterContemporain, directed respectively by Laurence Equilbey and Jonathon Nott, deliver these works with marvelous control and technical polish, and Naïve provides fine reproduction, except for the boxy and sometimes noisy recording of the "Kammersymphonie No. 1."
Gramophone - Arnold Whittall
The performances are never less than adequate and the late De profundis setting is outstanding in its fiery eloquence.

The performances are never less than adequate and the late De profundis setting is outstanding in its fiery eloquence.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/21/2005
  • Label: Valois
  • UPC: 822186050088
  • Catalog Number: 5008

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Peace on Earth (Friede auf Erden), for chorus & instruments ad lib, Op. 13 - Arnold Schoenberg & Hervé Boissière (9:52)
  2. 2 Pieces (5) for orchestra, Op. 16: No. 3. Farben - Arnold Schoenberg & Hervé Boissière (4:08)
  3. 3–5 Folksongs (3) for chorus - Arnold Schoenberg & Hervé Boissière (9:23)
  4. 4 Peace on Earth (Friede auf Erden), for chorus & instruments ad lib, Op. 13 - Arnold Schoenberg & Hervé Boissière (9:33)
  5. 5 Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 9 - Arnold Schoenberg & Hervé Boissière (20:26)
  6. 6 Pieces (6) for male chorus, Op. 35: No. 6. Verbundenheit - Arnold Schoenberg & Arnold Schoenberg (2:35)
  7. 7 Dreimal tausend Jahre, for chorus, Op. 50a - Hervé Boissière & Arnold Schoenberg (2:52)
  8. 8 De Profundis, for chorus, Op. 50b - Hervé Boissière & Arnold Schoenberg (5:16)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Accentus Chamber Choir Primary Artist
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