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Complete Webern / Boulez


Release Date: 05/09/2000 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 457637   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Anton WebernJohann Sebastian BachFranz Schubert
Performer:  Christiane OelzeGerald FinleyPierre-Laurent AimardFrançoise Pollet,   ... 
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic OrchestraBBC SingersEnsemble InterContemporain,   ... 
Number of Discs: 6 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 6 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Those who are familiar with Pierre Boulez's earlier "Complete Webern" on Sony will notice that his new Deutsche Grammophon edition contains six discs to Sony's three. That's because Sony only included works for which Webern assigned opus numbers, plus the composer's Schubert and Bach arrangements. DG fleshes out the picture with all of Webern's posthumously published music, mostly dating from his apprentice years. Virtually all of these recordings already have been available. Discs one through three are given over to orchestral, choral, and chamber works with Boulez leading the Berlin Philharmonic, BBC Singers, and the Ensemble Intercontemporain. Soprano Christiane Oelze's survey of
Read more Webern's lieder with voice and piano occupies disc four, with the addition of three unreleased songs set to poems by Ferdinand Avenarius. On disc five, the Emerson Quartet plays all the string trio and quartet works. The final disc brings together the cello and piano music, the four pieces Op. 7 for violin and piano, and the piano works. Gianluca Cascioli's traversals of both 1906 movements for piano were previously released, while Krystian Zimerman recorded two tiny pieces and the Op. 27 Piano Variations especially for this collection.


We first encounter Webern writing music in a style that resembles Brahms with a little Grieg mixed in for good measure. Soon his harmonic palette blossoms with chromatic complexity and takes a refined turn during studies with Arnold Schoenberg. Finally, Webern's singular voice emerges by way of pocket pieces whose ascetic contours sport asymmetrical rhythms, canonic lines that leapfrog from instrument to instrument, and rigorously organized pitches. There's no filler, no fat, and every note counts.


Sometimes it's hard to grasp such fleeting, fragile, and texturally exposed music in a single hearing. When I hear a Webern work in concert, for instance, it's usually over before it begins. Imagine passing a Joan Miró painting while riding a bicycle and you'll understand what I mean. You need to find quiet listening space and know that you can play a movement or even a whole piece more than once.


Performing Webern well demands the utmost in precision and concentration, yet without negating the music's passionate undercurrents. Boulez has lived with this music a long time, and the refinement of his latest interpretations beggar description. The sonic advantages of the DG recordings play no small part, in that fine-tuned dyanmic adjustments at quiet levels can be heard with no compromise. The conductor's tempos have broadened since his 1967-72 recordings in the aforementioned Sony set, and instrumental balances are smoother, more blended than before. Yet the ferocity and edginess of the earlier versions haven't been superceded. Nor is the elemental force and dynamism of Dohnanyi's superb Cleveland Webern readings surpassed here.


No qualms, though, concerning Christiane Oelze, who negotiates Webern's treacherous, leaping lines as if they were nursery rhymes. Similarly, the Emersons leave no little detail unscrutinized, and make a lean contrast to the more opulent, aristocratic Quartetto Italiano Webern recordings from the 1970s. I'm sorry the not-so-famous Cascioli wasn't brought back to record the piano works assigned to the better-known Zimerman, whose mincing, overwrought Variations lack the grace and eloquence of Peter Serkin's recent Koch version.


An excellent booklet includes an introduction by Boulez, numerous photos of Webern at work and play, an informative essay by Paul Griffiths, a comprehensive Webern timeline, and complete texts and translations. Whatever reservations one might harbor about this or that individual performance, it is unlikely that this set as a whole will be surpassed in the near future. It belongs in every serious music library, private or public. [9/9/2000]
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Passacaglia for orchestra, Op. 1 by Anton Webern
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Modern 
Written: 1908; Austria 
2. Sätze (5) for String Quartet, Op. 5 by Anton Webern
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; Preglhof 
Notes: Orchestrated: Anton von Webern (1928-29) 
3. Pieces (6) for orchestra, Op. 6 by Anton Webern
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Modern 
Written: 1909; Austria 
4. Musikalisches Opfer, BWV 1079: no 5, Ricercar a 6 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1747; Leipzig, Germany 
Notes: Orchestrated: Anton von Webern (1935) 
5. German Dances (6) for Piano, D 820 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1824; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: Orchestrated: Anton von Webern (1931) 
6. Im Sommerwind by Anton Webern
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904; Preglhof 
7. Pieces (5) for Orchestra by Anton Webern
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; Vienna, Austria 
8. Orchestral Songs (3) by Anton Webern
Performer:  Christiane Oelze (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913-1914; Vienna, Austria 
9. Symphony, Op. 21 by Anton Webern
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Modern 
Written: 1927-1928; Austria 
10. Das Augenlicht, Op. 26 by Anton Webern
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; Austria 
11. Cantata no 1, Op. 29 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Christiane Oelze (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938-1939; Austria 
12. Cantata no 2, Op. 31 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Christiane Oelze (Soprano), Gerald Finley (Bass)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941-1943; Austria 
13. Quintet for Piano and Strings, M 118 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; Vienna, Austria 
14. Entflieht auf leichten Kähnen, Op. 2 by Anton Webern
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908/1914; Vienna, Austria 
15. Rilke Lieder (2), Op. 8 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Françoise Pollet (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; Austria 
16. Pieces (5) for orchestra, Op. 10 by Anton Webern
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: Modern 
Written: 1911-1913; Austria 
17. Lieder (4), Op. 13 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Françoise Pollet (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1918; Vienna, Austria 
18. Trakl Lieder (6), Op. 14 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Françoise Pollet (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917-1921; Vienna, Austria 
19. Sacred Songs (5), Op. 15 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Christiane Oelze (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921-1922; Austria 
20. Canons (5) on Latin Texts, Op. 16 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Christiane Oelze (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1924; Austria 
21. Traditional Rhymes (3), Op. 17 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Christiane Oelze (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924-1925; Austria 
22. Lieder (3), Op. 18 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Christiane Oelze (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; Vienna, Austria 
23. Lieder (2), Op. 19 by Anton Webern
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain,  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Vienna, Austria 
24. Quartet for Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone, Piano and Violin, Op. 22 by Anton Webern
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928-1930; Mödling, Austria 
25. Concerto, Op. 24 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931-1934; Austria 
26. Poems (3) by Anton Webern
Performer:  Christiane Oelze (Soprano), Eric Schneider (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899-1903; Vienna, Austria 
27. Early Lieder (8) by Anton Webern
Performer:  Christiane Oelze (Soprano), Eric Schneider (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1901-1904; Austria 
28. Avenarius Lieder (3) by Anton Webern
Performer:  Christiane Oelze (Soprano), Eric Schneider (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903-1904; Vienna, Austria 
29. Dehmel Lieder (5) by Anton Webern
Performer:  Eric Schneider (Piano), Christiane Oelze (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906-1908; Vienna, Austria 
30. George Lieder (4) by Anton Webern
Performer:  Eric Schneider (Piano), Christiane Oelze (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908-1909; Austria 
31. Lieder (4), Op. 12 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Eric Schneider (Piano), Christiane Oelze (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915-1917; Vienna, Austria 
32. George Lieder (5), Op. 4 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Eric Schneider (Piano), Christiane Oelze (Soprano)
33. Lieder (3) from Viae inviae, Op. 23 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Eric Schneider (Piano), Christiane Oelze (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933-1934; Austria 
34. Jone Lieder (3), Op. 25 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Christiane Oelze (Soprano), Eric Schneider (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; Austria 
35. Langsamer Satz for String Quartet, M 78 by Anton Webern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emerson String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1905; Vienna, Austria 
36. Quartet for Strings, M 79 by Anton Webern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emerson String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1905; Preglhof 
37. Bagatelles (6) for string quartet, Op. 9 by Anton Webern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emerson String Quartet
Period: Modern 
Written: 1913; Austria 
38. Rondo for String Quartet, M 115 by Anton Webern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emerson String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906; Vienna, Austria 
39. Satz for String Trio, M 278 by Anton Webern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emerson String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; Mödling, Austria 
40. Pieces (3) for String Quartet by Anton Webern
Performer:  Mary Ann McCormick (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emerson String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; Vienna, Austria 
41. Trio for Strings, Op. 20 by Anton Webern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emerson String Quartet members
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; Vienna, Austria 
42. Quartet for Strings, Op. 28 by Anton Webern
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emerson String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936-1938; Austria 
43. Little Pieces (3) for Cello and Piano, Op. 11 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Oleg Maisenberg (Piano), Clemens Hagen (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; Vienna, Austria 
44. Sonaten Satz for Piano, M 114 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Gianluca Cascioli (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906; Austria 
45. Satz for Piano, M 112 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Gianluca Cascioli (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906; Austria 
46. Pieces (4) for Violin and Piano, Op. 7 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Oleg Maisenberg (Piano), Gidon Kremer (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910/1914; Preglhof 
47. Sonata for Cello and Piano, M 202 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Oleg Maisenberg (Piano), Clemens Hagen (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; Vienna, Austria 
48. Kinderstück, M 267 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Krystian Zimerman (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; Austria 
49. Variations for piano, Op. 27 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Krystian Zimerman (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1935-1936; Austria 
50. Pieces (2) for Cello and Piano, M 1 - M 2 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Oleg Maisenberg (Piano), Clemens Hagen (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899; Preglhof 
51. Piece for Piano, M277 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Krystian Zimerman (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; Austria 

Sound Samples

Passacaglia for Orchestra op.1
5 Movements for String Quartet, Op.5: 1. Heftig bewegt
5 Movements for String Quartet, Op.5: 2. Sehr langsam
5 Movements for String Quartet, Op.5: 3. Sehr bewegt
5 Movements for String Quartet, Op.5: 4. Sehr langsam
5 Movements for String Quartet, Op.5: 5. In zarter Bewegung
Six Pieces For Orchestra, Op.6 - Original Version (1909): 1. Etwas bewegt
Six Pieces For Orchestra, Op.6 - Original Version (1909): 2. Bewegt
Six Pieces For Orchestra, Op.6 - Original Version (1909): 3. Zart bewegt
Six Pieces For Orchestra, Op.6 - Original Version (1909): 4. Langsam (marcia funebre)
Six Pieces For Orchestra, Op.6 - Original Version (1909): 5. Sehr langsam
Six Pieces For Orchestra, Op.6 - Original Version (1909): 6. Zart bewegt
Musical Offering, BWV 1079 - Transcription: Anton Webern: Fuga (Ricercata) a 6 voci
Six German Dances, D820 - orch. Anton Webern: No. 1 - 3
Six German Dances, D820 - orch. Anton Webern: No. 4 - 6
Im Sommerwind
5 Pieces for Orchestra (1913): 1. Bewegt
5 Pieces for Orchestra (1913): 2. Langsam (sostenuto)
5 Pieces for Orchestra (1913): 3. Sehr bewegte Viertel
5 Pieces for Orchestra (1913): 4. Langsame Viertel
5 Pieces for Orchestra (1913): 5. (Alla breve)
Three Orchestral Songs for Voice and Orchestra (1913/14): 1. Leise Düfte (Poem by Anton Webern)
Three Orchestral Songs for Voice and Orchestra (1913/14): 2. Kunfttag III. "Nun wird es wieder Lenz" (Poem by Stefan George)
Three Orchestral Songs for Voice and Orchestra (1913/14): 3. O sanftes Glühn der Berge (Poem by Anton Webern)
Symphony, Op.21: 1. Ruhig schreitend
Symphony, Op.21: 2. Variationen
Das Augenlicht (The Light Of The Eye) Op.26
I. Kantate op.29 for soprano, mixed chorus and orchestra: 1. Getragen - Lebhaft. "Zündender Lichtblitz des Lebens" (Chorus)
I. Kantate op.29 for soprano, mixed chorus and orchestra: 2. Leicht bewegt "Kleiner Flügel Ahornsamen" (Soprano)
I. Kantate op.29 for soprano, mixed chorus and orchestra: 3. Ruhig "Tönen die seligen Saiten" (Chorus & Soprano)
Variations for Orchestra op.30
II. Kantate op.31 for soprano solo, bass solo, mixed chorus and orchestra: 1. Sehr lebhaft - Ruhig "Schweigt auch die Welt" (Basso)
II. Kantate op.31 for soprano solo, bass solo, mixed chorus and orchestra: 2. Sehr verhalten "Sehr tief verhalten innerst Leben" (Basso)
II. Kantate op.31 for soprano solo, bass solo, mixed chorus and orchestra: 3. Sehr bewegt "Schöpfen aus Brunnen des Himmels" (Chorus & Soprano)
II. Kantate op.31 for soprano solo, bass solo, mixed chorus and orchestra: 4. Sehr lebhaft "Leichte Bürde der Bäume" (Soprano)
II. Kantate op.31 for soprano solo, bass solo, mixed chorus and orchestra: 5. Sehr mässig "Feindselig ist das Wort" (Chorus & Soprano)
II. Kantate op.31 for soprano solo, bass solo, mixed chorus and orchestra: 6. Sehr fliessend "Gelockert aus dem Schosse" (Chorus)

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