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Violin Concerto Survivor From Warsaw

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Audio CD, October 28, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

This volume of Robert Craft' acclaimed Schoenberg series presents the composer' favourite of his own orchestral works, the Violin Concerto. Conceived in grand style and dedicated to his 'dear friend and fellow warrior' Webern, it draws on the technique
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 28, 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B001F1YBRG
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #324,648 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ray Barnes on September 7, 2010
Format: Audio CD
All of the 6 works on this CD are well recorded. As usual with this excellent Naxos series, the documentation (provided by the conductor Robert Craft) is invaluable. A Survivor From Warsaw, narrated in English, German, and Hebrew at the end, is dramatic and expressive. The orchestral score depicts Nazi atrocities against the Jews during WWII. Suffice to say, it is not comfortable listening, but effective. I am reserving judgment about the Prelude to Genesis for orchestra and wordless chorus, but the performance is fine. The choral Dreimal Tausend Jahre and De Profundis (Psalm 130), in German and Hebrew sung a cappella, are quite beautiful. The Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte for reciter, piano and string quartet, in English, is very fine too, although the rhythm of the recitation takes some getting used to. The 12 tone scoring is surprisingly warm and expressive, although it too is also targeted at the Nazis indirectly.

The Violin Concerto has what I would call a bittersweet quality which upon repeated hearing becomes very palatable. The somewhat (not severely) angular 12 tone writing is offset by the solo instrument's warmth of tone, although it requires great virtuosity to bring this off. In its lyrical sharpness, the work has something in common with the Sibelius concerto (hence the Hilary Hahn CD). The final movement here has a passage which resembles the rhythm of the opening of the final movement of the Brahms concerto, perhaps not coincidentally. It is not hard to see why Schoenberg had great affection for this work, where he has reconciled the new world of sound with the old - although this is not readily apparent upon first hearing. Compared to the award winning Hahn release (which I also admire), this performance is in my view of equal quality in every way, perhaps a little less lyrical and sharper, and the music can take either approach with equal success.

Overall, another great release in this series, with fine cover art too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Trent P. McDonald on October 13, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is currently my favorite Schoenberg CD. I've listened to it almost constantly for quite a few months.

I had originally bought this CD because I didn't have a copy of "A Survivor from Warsaw". All I can say is "Wow!", this is definitely worth the price of admission even if the rest of the CD were blank. The music is very powerful and fits perfectly with the words - listening you can tell why Schoenberg is called an expressionist....

The three middle pieces were also new to my collection with this CD. Although they do not plumb the emotional depths in quite the same way as "Survivor" they still retain their own powerful beauty - a stark, thorny beauty to be sure, but beautiful. The 2 Op. 50 pieces are often chilling...

I like "Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte", which I have other copies with the same narrator, but it can't compare to "Survivor". One problem personally - if I lose the thread of this I have a hard time getting back into it - this can be said about other meaningful "art music", but I seem to lose my way on this piece more than any others on the CD which might seem strange since it is usually regarded as the most accessible...

The title piece is, of course, the violin concerto. I can't say enough about Hillary Hahn's version, but I like this one almost as much. In fact, in many ways I find it easier to "get" in the context of other late Schoenberg pieces than with Sibelius. The violin concerto is another very powerful piece and explores vast emotion territory.

Overall I find this CD very powerful. It may not be for every taste, but I highly recommend it to those who are willing to try late Schoenberg.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 4, 2010
Format: Audio CD
In his invaluable guide "Schoenberg" in the Master Musicians series, Malcolm Macdonald writes (Preface, vii): "Everyone seems to have problems with Schoenberg. .... [A]s with all music that has something important to say, there is really no substitute for familiarity born of repeated listening to sympathetic performances." Robert Craft has recorded an extensive series of recordings of the works of this difficult composer which should be invaluable to listeners willing to hear Schoenberg in breadth and depth. The CD I am reviewing here includes a selection of Schoenberg's latter works, including the Concerto for violin and orchestra, opus 36, and a group of five late choral pieces composed during or after WW II. The CD has received strong critical reviews. It is available individually or as part of a 5-CD set on Naxos. The Works of Arnold Schoenberg, Vol. 1

MacDonald describes the opening work on the CD, "A Survivor from Warsaw for Narrator, Men's Chorus and Orchestra", opus 46, as "an overwhelming demonstration of twelve-tone music's fitness for communicating passionate human emotion." ("Schoenberg" at 108) The work opens with a blaring twelve-tone phrase in the trumpet. The narrator, David Wilson-Johnson, describes an unspecified incident of the murder of Jews by the Nazis accompanied by chilling music. At the end of the work, a male chorus sound a note of hope in chanting, also in twelve tones, perhaps the most hallowed prayer of Judaism, the "Shema Yisroel."

Three of the remaining four choral pieces also illustrate Schoenberg's commitment in later life to Judaism and to religious themes.
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