Berg * Schoenberg: Berg Drei Orchesterstucke, Op 6

By Whittall, Arnold | Gramophone, September 2013 | Go to article overview

Berg * Schoenberg: Berg Drei Orchesterstucke, Op 6


Whittall, Arnold, Gramophone


Berg * Schoenberg

Berg Drei Orchesterstucke, Op 6

Schoenberg Pelleas und Melisande, Op 5

Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra / Jac van Steen

Dabringhaus und Grimm (F) *** MDG901 1807-6

(61' * DDD/DSD)

Dortmund orchestra with works straddling the tonal divide

In his 40-minute symphonic poem Pelleas und Melisande (1902-03), the 29-year-old Arnold Schoenberg showed that he could match Richard Strauss for pictorial opulence while contributing degrees of polyphonic richness all his own. Ten years later, the 30-year-old Alban Berg showed that Mahlerian stylistic features could be transformed by levels of feverish expressionism (stemming from Strauss's Elektra and Schoenberg's Erwartung) that Mahler himself would never have contemplated.

These two scores by master and pupil make an absorbing programme, and there have been some memorable recordings (not usually on the same disc) by front-rank orchestras and star conductors. But Jac van Steen and his Dortmund Philharmonic are by no means also-rans, especially in the Berg, where Dabringhaus und Grimm's finely balanced recording captures a wealth of textural subtleties while not for a moment damping down the music's ferocity or skating over its moments of mysterious calm. …

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