Brahms * Schoenberg: Brahms Serenade No 1

By Quantrill, Peter | Gramophone, October 2014 | Go to article overview

Brahms * Schoenberg: Brahms Serenade No 1


Quantrill, Peter, Gramophone


Brahms * Schoenberg Brahms Serenade No 1, Op 11 (arr Boustead) (a) Schoenberg Verklarte Nacht, Op 4 (b) (b) members of Ensemble Epomeo; members of Orchestra of the Swan / Kenneth Woods vc Somm (F) SOMMCD0139 (71' * DDD) Recorded live at (a) Bushell Hall, Birkenhead School, May 20,2012; (b) Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul. Dover, March 8,2013

This pair of one-off live performances relives and condenses the battle over music in the second half of the 19th century, a battle in which Brahms unwisely involved himself by signing (and possibly writing) a manifesto against Liszt and 'The Music of the Future'. With no one to tell him otherwise, Schoenberg seems to have decided there was no conflict worth perpetuating, or that he was the man to achieve a synthesis.

The dryness of the first violin-playing in Verklarte Nacht belongs to the effect of the performance as a whole, which majors on delicate tracery and does not attempt to compete with the weight of sonority afforded by the expanded version. More flowing tempi are well handled by the reduced forces to create a livelier impression than the sober elegies of Holliger and Karajan (quite different from each other in their ways), closely fitted to Dehmel's overheated poetry as Schoenberg appears to have intended. …

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