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Monday, August 28, 2017

Arnold Schoenberg - Five Pieces; Cello Concerto; Piano Quartet (Robert Craft)


Composer: Arnold Schoenberg; Georg Matthias Monn; Johannes Brahms
  • (01-05) Schoenberg - Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16
  • (06-08) Monn-Schoenberg - Cello Concerto in D major
  • (09-12) Brahms-Schoenberg - Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25

Fred Sherry, cello (6-8)
London Symphony Orchestra (1-5)
Philharmonia Orchestra (6-12)
Robert Craft, conductor

Date: 2006
Label: Naxos




This is Schoenberg for people who hate Schoenberg. The Five Pieces for Orchestra, far from sounding radical or appallingly dissonant as they must have in 1909, now impress us as impressionistic, atmospheric, and evocative. The loony Cello Concerto after Monn and the Brahms Piano Quartet are both modern classics in the art of transcription, not to mention one composer’s very strongly personalized view of his predecessors.

Robert Craft’s performances are uniformly impressive, particularly in the Cello Concerto. Its appallingly difficult solo part is handled with consummate intelligence and virtuosity by Fred Sherry, and the accompaniment hardly could be clearer or cleaner in texture. The Brahms is very good too, surpassed only by Craft himself in his earlier Sony recording with the Chicago Symphony. This newcomer, however, does enjoy much better sonics, and at the Naxos price makes an excellent bargain.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****


Arnold Schoenberg (13 September 1874 – 13 July 1951) was an Austrian composer, leader of the Second Viennese School. Schoenberg was known early in his career for simultaneously extending the traditionally opposed German Romantic styles of Brahms and Wagner. Later, his name would come to personify innovations in atonality that would become the most polemical feature of 20th-century art music. In the 1920s, Schoenberg developed the twelve-tone technique, an influential compositional method of manipulating an ordered series of all twelve notes in the chromatic scale.


Robert Craft (October 20, 1923 – November 10, 2015) was an American conductor and writer. Craft was born in Kingston, New York and studied music at the Juilliard School. He is best known for his intimate working friendship with Igor Stravinsky, on which Craft drew in producing numerous recordings and books. Craft was an award-winning conductor who was the first American to conduct Alban Berg's Wozzeck and Lulu. Besides recording virtually all of Stravinsky's music, Craft conducted pioneering recordings of Schoenberg, Varèse, Webern and other works of then contemporary composers.


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