Webern: Vocal and Orchestral Works

Webern: Vocal and Orchestral Works

by Robert Craft
     
 

Pairing the names of Anton Webern and Robert Craft may not necessarily bring happy memories to those who listened to the historic recordings Columbia issued in 1957 in its famous four-LP box set of Webern's Complete Works. But that may change if Naxos' all-digital series has anything to do with it. Craft has certainly been a valiant champion of Webern's music,See more details below

Overview

Pairing the names of Anton Webern and Robert Craft may not necessarily bring happy memories to those who listened to the historic recordings Columbia issued in 1957 in its famous four-LP box set of Webern's Complete Works. But that may change if Naxos' all-digital series has anything to do with it. Craft has certainly been a valiant champion of Webern's music, promoting it passionately at times when only the cognoscenti of the avant-garde cared anything for it. However, the quality of his early performances was uneven, and despite the memorable presence on his recordings of the formidable Marni Nixon, who sang the taxing vocal music with aplomb, those recordings made Webern seem unnaturally dry and pedantic, and an impression was left of disjointed and not well-rehearsed music. With this installment of Craft's all-digital recordings from 2007 and 2008, a new interpretation of Webern emerges, one that is decidedly less cerebral and considerably more atmospheric, lyrical, and expressive. A lot has changed in 50 years, and the technical challenges of playing and recording Webern's music correctly and beautifully have decreased over time, as musicians have found later avant-garde composers' works to be far more daunting and capacity-enlarging. With the greater familiarity and ease of performance, musicians have granted themselves more freedom to play Webern with something amounting to soulfulness. Craft makes the most of his resources here, conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble with assured pacing and emotional flexibility, so the instrumental works sound quite musical and almost effortless. The angular vocal and choral pieces are still somewhat more challenging, but hearing the clear and accurate performances of sopranos Tony Arnold and Claire Booth, bass David Wilson-Johnson, and the Simon Joly Chorale is really a pleasure. Naxos' recording is slightly variable in clarity and dynamics, which may be noticeable when the short tracks are heard in close succession, yet the sound quality is great overall, with a surprisingly heightened sense of spatial dimensions that puts the listener right in the players' midst.

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Product Details

Release Date:
07/28/2009
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313253128
catalogNumber:
8557531
Rank:
112549

Tracks

  1. Fuga (Ricercata) a 6 voci for orchestra (arr. from Bach's Musical Offering)  - Anton Webern  - Anton Webern  - Robert Craft  -  Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble
  2. Songs (2) for chorus, clarinet, bass clarinet, celesta, guitar & violin, Op. 19  - Anton Webern  - Anton Webern  - Robert Craft  - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe  -  Simon Joly Chorale  -  Members of the Philharmonia Orchestra
  3. Movements (5), version for string orchestra, Op. 5  - Anton Webern  - Anton Webern  - Robert Craft  -  Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra
  4. Songs (2) for soprano & ensemble, Op. 8  - Anton Webern  - Anton Webern  - Robert Craft  - Rainer Maria Rilke  -  Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble  - Tony Arnold
  5. Pieces (5) for orchestra, Op. 10  - Anton Webern  - Anton Webern  - Robert Craft  -  Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra
  6. Songs (4) for soprano & orchestra (or piano), Op. 13  - Anton Webern  - Anton Webern  - Hans Bethge  - Robert Craft  - Karl Kraus  -  Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble  - Tony Arnold
  7. Songs (6) for soprano & ensemble, Op. 14  - Anton Webern  - Anton Webern  - Robert Craft  - Georg Trakl  -  Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble  - Tony Arnold
  8. Sacred Songs (5) for soprano & ensemble, Op. 15  - Anton Webern  - Anton Webern  - Robert Craft  -  Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble  - Tony Arnold
  9. Das Augenlicht, for chorus & orchestra, Op. 26  - Anton Webern  - Anton Webern  - Robert Craft  -  Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra  -  Simon Joly Chorale
  10. Variations for orchestra, Op. 30  - Anton Webern  - Anton Webern  - Robert Craft  -  Twentieth Century Classics Ensemble
  11. Cantata No. 2 for soprano, bass, chorus & orchestra, Op. 31  - Anton Webern  - Anton Webern  - Robert Craft  - Hildegard Jone  -  Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra  - David Wilson-Johnson  -  Simon Joly Chorale  - Claire Booth

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