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This volume of Robert Craft’s acclaimed Schoenberg series presents the composer’s 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 techniques of melodic variation and development that Schoenberg so admired in Brahms’ music to reach a majestic conclusion.
In the other shorter works, written during or after World War II, Schoenberg uses striking vocal and instrumental combinations to create intensely moving and dramatic music.
De Profundis was Schoenberg’s last completed composition.
Arnold Schoenberg: A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46
A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46
Arnold Schoenberg: Prelude to Genesis, Op. 44
Prelude to Genesis, Op. 44
Arnold Schoenberg: Dreimal Tausend Jahre, Op. 50a
Dreimal Tausend Jahre, Op. 50a
Arnold Schoenberg: De profundis (Psalm 130), Op. 50b
De Profundis (Psalm 130), Op. 50b
Arnold Schoenberg: Ode to Napoleon, Op. 41
Ode to Napoleon, Op. 41
Arnold Schoenberg: Violin Concerto, Op. 36
I. Poco allegro
II. Andante grazioso
III. Finale: Allegro
“Hilary Hahn's recording of Schoenberg's Violin Concerto (see above) paraded cool beauty where others could find only sweat and tears. Yes, an overstatement perhaps – Louis Krasner and Israel Baker, for example, are among a few honourable exceptions. Rolf Schulte and Robert Craft credibly project a work that sounds like an extension of Brahms's language in terms of Schoenberg's treatment of the orchestra and his melodic structures. Schulte's performance reminds one of Huberman's bon mot about Brahms setting the violin against the orchestra: it's a gutsy, fiercely intense interpretation with next to nothing of Hahn's centredness about it, though Craft's sane but enthusiastic conducting assures a workable temperature beyond the solo line. It's attractive but the sensation of Hahn holding her poise in the eye of a storm is preferable. Most of Craft's programme is fervid stuff. Both A Survivor from Warsaw and Ode to Napoleon are fired-up reactions to the Second World War, the former – a concise and startling music drama magnificently scored for full orchestra – is a chilling slice of narrative about Nazi brutality; the latter – a 15-minute chamber work that waves a clenched fist for the duration – is a bold indictment of totalitarianism, based on a poem by Byron. Both works place English recitations centre-stage, declaimed with clarity and dramatic zeal by David Wilson-Johnson. Craft's direction is very much 'straight from the hip', and the results are at the very least humbling. The Genesis Prelude is terse and powerful, and the two choral works, both at times starkly beautiful, take their prompts from Schoenberg's Jewish roots. This is not an easy programme to take in at a single sitting, but it's a valuable one; an essential addition to Craft's invaluable Schoenberg series.”
“…Schoenberg's Violin Concerto… sounds like an extension of Braham's language in terms of Schoenberg's treatment of the orchestra and the melodic structures. Schulte's performance reminds me of Huberman's bon mot about Brahms setting the violin against the orchestra: it's a gusty, fiercely intense interpretation...”
3rd October 2008
“it's the accounts of the two works with narrator that make this collection memorable. David Wilson-Johnson is outstanding in A Survivor from Warsaw, a heartwrenching drama compressed into seven minutes...Craft's handling of the high-pressure orchestral writing is searingly direct throughout. Altogether, it's an outstanding bargain.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.