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Schoenberg: Five Pieces for Orchestra / Cello Concerto (after Monn) / Piano Quartet (Brahms orch. Schoenberg)

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Audio CD, November 21, 2006
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Product Description

In 1933, Schoenberg transcribed for cello a harpsichord concerto by the baroque composer Matthias Monn . He dedicated his arrangement to Pablo Casals, whom he had met in Vienna, but Casals considered it too demanding. It was later premi'red instead by Emm

Review

"Gentle insights into the work of Schoenberg and is beautiful to the neophyte ear" -- lonarts.blogspot.com, Jens Laurson, 2007
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 21, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000IY0634
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,084 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Ray Barnes on September 4, 2010
Format: Audio CD
This is another fine instalment in the Naxos complete survey of the works of Schoenberg. The Five Pieces for Orchestra is very typical of the early orchestral style of the Second Viennese School - concise and abrasively atonal. This is not initially comfortable listening, but the performance is excellent in every way. The Cello Concerto after Georg Matthias Monn's 1746 concerto for clavicembalo in D major overall stays "true" to the baroque style. It has some very fine cello writing and one regrets that its dedicatee Pablo Casals declined to perform it. I find the orchestral writing somewhat uninspired, but having not heard the original work, perhaps this is not a fault. As far as listenability is concerned, these two works are worlds apart - and Naxos in my view chose correctly in placing the Five Pieces first.

The most enjoyable item was the orchestration of the Brahms G minor Piano Quartet. Quite unlike the Concerto for String Quartet modelled after Handel's Concerto Grosso Op. 6/7, this piece does not conflate the original musical structure, and for at least the first three movements the orchestration is very Brahmsian in flavour - especially the woodwind and string writing. I find Brahms' writing in general has a pronounced cantabile quality and Schoenberg's adaptation for the most part feels the same. There are passages very reminiscent of the Second and Third Symphonies and the Haydn Variations. Where I have some concerns here is in the final movement, where Schoenberg introduces glockenspiel, xylophone and persistent use of the cymbals (this is also mentioned in the excellent notes, but one can easily hear this), to the point where, I feel the Brahmsian flavour is perhaps compromised.
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Format: Audio CD
Budget-priced recordings offer an outstanding opportunity to expand one's musical horizons. Thus, the Naxos label has recently released a five-CD compilation of recordings of the music of Arnold Schoenberg (1874 - 1951) by the noted scholar and conductor, Robert Craft. My understanding is that several similar compilations of Craft-Schoenberg are in process. These recordings had been released in the mid-1990's on the Koch label before being reissued individually on Naxos in the last few years and then combined in a five-CD set. I have familiarity with some of Schoenberg but wanted to take the opportunity these releases present to hear his music further and discuss it for interested readers on Amazon. Schoenberg, the founder of the so-called "Second Viennese School" remains a difficult, controversial composer, primarily for his development of the twelve-tone atonal method of composition relatively late in his career.

As do the other releases in this set, this CD includes both major and less significant works of Schoenberg. The major work is the Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16 which dates from 1909. The relatively minor works are two transcriptions of the music of other composers, the Cello Concerto (after G.M. Monn) which dates from 1932 and Schoenberg's 1937 orchestration of Brahms's Piano Quartet in g minor, Brahms op. 25. Craft conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in the Five Pieces and the Philharmonia Orchestra in the two transcriptions.

The Five Pieces for Orchestra is a densely-packed work of about 15 minutes. Schoenberg gave names to each of the pieces after his publisher prodded him to do so. By 1909, Schoenberg was composing atonally, (sometimes called pantonally) but he had not developed the 12-tone row.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The CD is excellent. I was especially eager to get the orchester-facon of the
piano quartett by Brahms. Now my wish is brillantly fulfilled.
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