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  • Schoenberg: Die Glückliche Hand; Variations for Orchestra; Verklärte Nacht
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Schoenberg: Die Glückliche Hand; Variations for Orchestra; Verklärte Nacht

9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 13, 1993
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

This is one of the best discs in this series. The expressionist drama Die Gluckliche Hand is one of Schoenberg's most experimental works, and though the Freudian expressionism is dated, the music is surprisingly enjoyable. The opening minutes create one of Schoenberg's most evocative atmospheres, a musical jungle, with soft drums beating eerily, a forest of instrumental melodies, and voices chanting. Siegmund Nimsgern is a solid bass. Pierre Boulez has remarked that the Variations for Orchestra is essentially a didactic exercise in serial variations, but the work still has much to offer, the abstract musical material is developed in every conceivable expressive way. Finally, the orchestral arrangement of Transfigured Night--a Straussian tone poem in black and white--is given an unexpectedly emotional reading by Boulez at the helm of the New York Philharmonic. --Joshua Cody

1. Die glucklich Hand, Op. 18: Scene I
2. Die glucklich Hand, Op. 18: Scene II
3. Die glucklich Hand, Op. 18: Scene III: Kraftig bewegt
4. Die glucklich Hand, Op. 18: Scene III: Viel rascher. Allegro
5. Die glucklich Hand, Op. 18: Scene III: Massig bewegt
6. Die glucklich Hand, Op. 18: Scene IV
7. Variations For Orchestra, Op. 31: Introduktion. Massig, ruhig
8. Variations For Orchestra, Op. 31: Thema. Molto moderato
9. Variations For Orchestra, Op. 31: Variation I. Moderato
10. Variations For Orchestra, Op. 31: Variation II. Langsam
11. Variations For Orchestra, Op. 31: Variation III. Massig
12. Variations For Orchestra, Op. 31: Variation IV. Walzertempo
13. Variations For Orchestra, Op. 31: Variation V. Bewegt
14. Variations For Orchestra, Op. 31: Variation VI. Andante
15. Variations For Orchestra, Op. 31: Variation VII. Langsam
16. Variations For Orchestra, Op. 31: Variation VIII. Sehr rasch
17. Variations For Orchestra, Op. 31: Variatino IX. L'istesso tempo, aber etwas langsamer
18. Variations For Orchestra, Op. 31: Finale. Massig schnell
19. Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4: Grave
20. Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4: Molto rallentando
See all 23 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Performer: BBC Singers
  • Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic
  • Conductor: Pierre Boulez, Siegmund Nimsgern
  • Composer: Arnold Schoenberg
  • Audio CD (July 13, 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • ASIN: B000002819
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,948 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By John Harrington on December 10, 1999
Format: Audio CD
For decades spoil sports like "denisdiderot" below have been attacking Schoenberg's 12 tone system, saying, for example, that his music has no relation to "natural acoustics" and to the way "human beings make sense of sound". Well, last I checked, I'm a human being, one who happens to love this music, and I join musicians and music enthusiasts around the globe in praise of Schoenberg's work. The music of a "mediocre musical talent" doesn't last 50 years after his death. A talentless hack is forgotten. Schoenberg hasn't been forgotten and never will be. I dare say, though the real Denis Diderot is certainly remembered, the person below using Diderot's name as an alias will be forgotten shortly after his own death. Schoenberg will live on in the hearts and minds of musicians and music lovers everywhere as he does today.
Schoenberg's music is not for everyone, but then there's a lot in music that isn't for everyone. Try to accept that, though you may not connect with this composer, there are many who honestly do, and you may be missing something.
As to the person below who suggests we "use this site for what it was meant for", my understanding is that the purpose of Amazon reviews is to register opinions about the music. It is in that spirit that I have offered my review.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sam on November 1, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Die glückliche Hand alone is already a good reason for purchasing this CD - this work is very rarely recorded (Boulez's was only the second recording ever, and it was issued in 1981!), the few other recorded alternatives being mainly live performances (including one by as legendary a conductor as Hermann Scherchen).

Here is your only opportunity to get the full libretto, and what strikes one is that it almost entirely consists of scene indications, with the Man's words reduced to a minimum (he mainly admires the woman's beauty and wishes he could stay with her forever) and at both ends of the work, the choir of 6 men and 6 women blaming him for seeking things that he cannot obtain while he could be happy with his self. Numerous and quick changes in the colour and intensity of light are requested by Schoenberg throughout, and he describes very precisely what the characters should do on the stage and their surroundings - you would obviously benefit even more from the whole of it if you experienced the work on a stage or at least on film, rather than trying to imagine the scenery! I recommend you to read the whole of them before listening, otherwise you will end up the nose in the booklet without hardly any time to listen to the music!

The Happy Hand depicts a man's quest for love from a woman who excites him but always ultimately rejects him to join her lover, a dandy. The lovers are supposed to appear to him as in a dream, and he by the way hardly ever sees them as he mostly stands on the front facing the public while they are moving behind. This `hand' is supposed to represent what urges one to make the same mistakes repeatedly while following one's desires.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bob on October 7, 2003
Format: Audio CD
It's pretty hard to find a first-rate recording of one of Schoenberg's operas that comes complete with a libretto. Not only is this a first-rate recording with a libretto, it's also a bargain! I'm not too wild about the Boulez rendition of Op. 4 though. I like Karajan's version much better, but that's just a personal preference.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Autonomeus on August 22, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a disc that I first heard many years ago but did not appreciate until recently. DIE GLUCKLICHE HAND, OP. 18, is an atonal "drama mit musik" of 1910-13, about 20 minutes in length, here performed by the BBC Singers and BBCSO, recorded in 1981. When I first heard it I found the twisted Symbolist lyrics and story to be offputting and I couldn't appreciate the music. Returning to it as pure music and ignoring the content I find it to be very rewarding.

VARIATIONS FOR ORCHESTRA, OP. 31, is another 20-minute work that applies the 12 tone method to orchestral writing. This recording is the BBCSO from 1976. While not as immediately stunning as the earlier 5 PIECES, this complex work bears repeated listening. I prefer Boulez's 1991 recording with the CSO, which is darker and slightly more spacious -- this performance is brighter and sharper -- but this is a fine version.

The third piece on this disc is the Version for String Orchestra of VERKLARTE NACHTE, OP. 4, here performed by the NY Philharmonic, recorded in 1973. About 27 minutes long, I find this to be very ripe Romanticism, much less impressive than the original sextet version, but played with gusto.

Another excellent entry in Sony's Pierre Boulez series!

For anyone unfamiliar with Schoenberg:

Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) was arguably THE pivotal composer who launched the 20th century avant-garde in classical music.
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