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Pierre Boulez Conducts Schoenberg

Boulez
Release Date: 01/01/2014 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 42957   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Arnold SchoenbergClaude DebussyMaurice RavelAlexander Borodin,   ... 
Performer:  Siegmund NimsgernKenneth BowenIan PartridgePaul Hudson,   ... 
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony OrchestraBBC SingersNew York Philharmonic,   ... 
Number of Discs: 11 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

R E V I E W S of some of the recordings that make up this set:

Die Jakobsleiter, Chamber Symphony no 1 and Incidental Music to a Motion Picture Scene:

I have chosen SMK 48462 for review because it includes the only commercial recording Jacob's Ladder has ever had, made in EMFs London studios in 1976 (there is also an extremely rare Radio Nederland LP of a live performance). Schoenberg wrote and published the text for this grandiose oratorio and was writing the music with great enthusiasm and speed in 1917, when a call to military service interrupted its composition. He tried several times during his life to get back to it, but always with incomplete results. His widow persuaded Winfried Zillig, a
Read more one-time Schoenberg student, to put it all into performable shape; the result is this forty-seven-minute fragment, which was premiered in 1960. It is about half (the first half) of the work Schoenberg had planned.

Even in its incomplete form, Jacob's Ladder is one of Schoenberg's most impressive works, and it is comparatively easy to get to know. That accessibility has been aided by an English translation of the text for this issue—the original LP had only the German text. The performance is of course unique, and the monopoly did not dim Boulez's ability to probe, organize, and present Schoenberg's music. The lead vocalist is Siegmund Nimsgern as the angel Gabriel, who summons mankind and instructs them in the true way; his part calls for both singing and Sprechstimme. The other soloists have one section each, and their parts are almost completely sung; Mady Mesplé sings electronically dubbed overlapping roles as The Soul and “high female voices,“ much of which is vocalise in an extreme high register. The fragment ends with a “Big Symphonic Interlude“ which was supposed to lead to Part II, plus a final high-soprano trio.

The performance of the Chamber Symphony No. 1 is all balance and clarity; tempos are about average, but Boulez's ability to bring out every point makes them seem more relaxed than some of today's hypertense readings. Fifteen members of the Ensemble InterContemporain perform the original scoring, but the string quintet plays so smoothly as to suggest the later version for full orchestra. The 1930 Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene is rarely heard, perhaps because of its title; it contains some of Schoenberg's most colorful orchestration and makes a striking orchestral piece. Boulez and the BBC Symphony make the most of it. This disc is an absolutely essential part of any Schoenberg collection. Boulez's Die glückliche Hand, again featuring bass Siegmund Nimsgren, is also the only recording on CD, and is superior to Robert Craft's earlier stereo recording, making that disc equally necessary.

-- James H. North, FANFARE [11/1993, review of Sony 48462]

The shorter choral works:

As they used to say back in the fin de siècle, for every generation, it's art. How could one argue? Every generation has its own life and its own world and its own history and every generation has the right to its own artistic prophet. But should every generation's art appeal to the next generation, or the generation after that, or the generation after that? In his generation, Schoenberg was anathema to almost everyone not accepted into his elect band of disciples who revered him as the prophet of modern music. After his death, Schoenberg was still anathema to almost everybody except the next generation of disciples, and that generation gave the world performances of the prophet's music that made it sound as austere and forbidding as possible. But, finally, after three generations, the disciples were able to relax a bit and give the world performances of the prophet's music that made it sound as close to appealing as the music has ever gotten. In these recordings of Schoenberg's choral music by Pierre Boulez and the BBC Singers and BBC Chorus, the prophet's music still sounds like the prophet's music: immensely expressive, enormously concentrated, totally unyielding, and utterly uncompromising. But at least the music is accurately directed and accurately performed so for once it is clearly and lucidly presented, which is more than one can say for earlier recordings. And if the prophet's music still sounds forbidding to most listeners, well, there is only so much performers can do and remain faithful to the spirit of the music and of the prophet. For true believers, however, these discs will provide proof positive of the greatness of the man and the music.

-- James Leonard, AllMusic.com [review of Sony 44571] Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Die glückliche Hand, Op. 18 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Siegmund Nimsgern (Bass Baritone)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/12/1981 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London 
Length: 20 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Language: German 
2.
Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31 by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926-1928; Berlin, Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/23/1976 
Venue:  EMI Studios, London 
Length: 19 Minutes 21 Secs. 
3.
Verklärte Nacht for String Orchestra, Op. 4 by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899/1943; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/24/1973 
Venue:  CBS 30th Street Studio, NYC 
Length: 28 Minutes 35 Secs. 
4.
Die Jakobsleiter by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Siegmund Nimsgern (Bass), Kenneth Bowen (Tenor), Ian Partridge (Tenor),
Paul Hudson (Baritone), John Shirley-Quirk (Baritone), Anthony Rolfe Johnson (Tenor),
Ortrun Wenkel (Alto), Mady Mesplé (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917-1922; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/01/1980 
Venue:  IRCAM, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris 
Length: 47 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Language: German 
5.
Chamber Symphony no 1 in E major, Op. 9 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Marc Marder (Double Bass), Sylvie Gazeau (Violin), Michel Arrignon (Clarinet),
Michel Tavernier (Contrabassoon), André Cazalet (French Horn), Robert Tassin (French Horn),
Jacques Ghestem (Violin), Gérard Caussé (Viola), Philippe Müller (Cello),
Alain Marion (Flute), Gérard Perreau (English Horn), Didier Pateau (Oboe),
Alain Damiens (Clarinet), Guy Arnaud (Bass Clarinet), John Wetherhill (Bassoon)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain members
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  IRCAM, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris 
Length: 19 Minutes 41 Secs. 
6.
Incidental Music to a Motion Picture Scene, Op. 34 by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1930; Berlin, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/09/1976 
Venue:  EMI Studios, London 
Length: 8 Minutes 24 Secs. 
7.
Friede auf Erden, Op. 13 by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1982 
Venue:  BBC Studio 1, Maida Vale, London 
Length: 9 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Language: German 
8.
Kol nidre, Op. 39 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; USA 
Date of Recording: 02/1984 
Venue:  BBC Studio 1, Maida Vale, London 
Length: 12 Minutes 26 Secs. 
9.
Folksongs (3) for Chorus, Op. 49 by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/1986 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 10 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Language: German 
10.
Pieces (4) for Chorus, Op. 27 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Michael Collins (Clarinet), James Ellis (Mandolin), Christopher Van Kampen (Cello),
Nona Liddell (Violin)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1982 
Venue:  BBC Studio 1, Maida Vale, London 
Length: 10 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: German 
11.
Satires (3) for Chorus, Op. 28 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  John Constable (Piano), Christopher Van Kampen (Cello), Roger Chase (Viola)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1982 
Venue:  BBC Studio 1, Maida Vale, London 
Length: 11 Minutes 8 Secs. 
12.
Pieces (6) for Mens Chorus, Op. 35 by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1930; Berlin, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/1984 
Venue:  BBC Studio 1, Maida Vale, London 
Length: 13 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Language: German 
13.
Dreimal tausend Jahre, Op. 50a by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/1982 
Venue:  BBC Studio 1, Maida Vale, London 
Length: 3 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Language: German 
14.
De profundis, Op. 50b by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/1982 
Venue:  BBC Studio 1, Maida Vale, London 
Length: 4 Minutes 30 Secs. 
15.
Modern Psalm, Op. 50c by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; USA 
Date of Recording: 02/1984 
Venue:  BBC Studio 1, Maida Vale, London 
Length: 5 Minutes 33 Secs. 
16.
A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Günter Reich (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/1982 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 7 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Language: English 
17.
Canons (2) for Chorus by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 10/1986 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 3 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Language: German 
18.
German Folksongs (3) for Chorus by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/1986 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 9 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: German 
19.
Gurrelieder by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Jess Thomas (Tenor), Günter Reich (Spoken Vocals), Kenneth Bowen (Tenor),
Siegmund Nimsgern (Baritone), Yvonne Minton (Mezzo Soprano), Marita Napier (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Goldsmiths' Choral Union,  London Philharmonic Choir,  BBC Choral Society  ... 
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1900-1911; Vienna, Austria 
Language: German 
20.
Orchestral Songs (4), Op. 22 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Yvonne Minton (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913-1916; Vienna, Austria 
Language: German 
21.
Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Antony Pay (Clarinet), Daniel Barenboim (Piano), Michel Debost (Flute),
Yvonne Minton (Mezzo Soprano), Lynn Harrell (Cello), Pinchas Zukerman (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 06/20/1977 
Venue:  Eglise du Liban, Paris 
Length: 34 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Language: German 
22.
Gurrelieder: Lied der Waldtaube by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Jessye Norman (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain members
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1900-1911; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/15/1979 
Venue:  Espace de Projection, IRCAM, Paris 
Length: 12 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: German 
23.
Erwartung, Op. 17 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Janis Martin (Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/14/1977 
Venue:  London 
Length: 29 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: German 
24.
Suite, Op. 29 by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925-1926; Berlin, Germany 
25.
Pieces (3) for Chamber Orchestra by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; Vienna, Austria 
26.
Verklärte Nacht for String Sextet, Op. 4 by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899; Vienna, Austria 
27.
Moses und Aron by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Dennis Wicks (Bass), Richard Angas (Baritone), Günter Reich (Baritone),
Felicity Palmer (Soprano), Gillian Knight (Alto), John Winfield (Tenor),
Richard Cassilly (Tenor), John Noble (Baritone), Roland Hermann (Baritone),
Jane Manning (Soprano), Helen Watts (Alto), Philip Langridge (Tenor),
Michael Rippon (Bass)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Boys' Choir,  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930-1932; Berlin, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1974 
Venue:  West Ham Central Mission, London 
Length: 99 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Language: German 
28.
Chamber Symphony no 2, Op. 38 by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906-1916; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/05/1980 
Venue:  IRCAM, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris 
Length: 20 Minutes 56 Secs. 
29.
Serenade, Op. 24 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Jacques Ghestem (Violin), Guy Arnaud (Bass Clarinet), Gérard Caussé (Viola),
Michel Arrignon (Clarinet), André Saint-Clivier (Mandolin), John Shirley-Quirk (Bass Baritone),
Marie-Therese Ghirardi (Guitar), Pierre Strauch (Cello)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain members
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920-1923; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/10/1979 
Venue:  Espace de Projection, IRCAM, Paris 
Length: 33 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Language: German 
30.
Pieces (5) for Orchestra, Op. 16 by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/23/1976 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 15 Minutes 5 Secs. 
31.
Ode to Napoleon, Op. 41 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Alain Neveux (Piano), Gérard Caussé (Viola), Philippe Müller (Cello),
Jacques Ghestem (Violin), Sylvie Gazeau (Violin), David Wilson-Johnson (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain members
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
Date of Recording: 03/31/1980 
Venue:  Espace de Projection, IRCAM, Paris 
Length: 16 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Language: English 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 Vocal music without words? September 26, 2013 By David L. (Wilmette, IL) See All My Reviews "Fine performances of important music. But much of the music is vocal and there are no texts or translations provided either on paper, on disc or by internet link. If Schoenberg thought the words were important enough to set, the words are important enough for us to be able to read and understand. Some of the works are enough part of mainstream repertoire that texts can be easily located or may already be in your collection in other recordings. But some of these pieces are decidedly out of the way, and the texts are not easily obtained. Shame on Sony." Report Abuse
 Stunning Music Beautifully Performed - Boulez's S September 12, 2013 By Daniel B. (Lilydale, MN) See All My Reviews "My exposure to the corpus of Schoenberg's music began with Robert Craft's pioneering recordings released in two-vinyl disc packages throughout the 1960s. Each issue contained music from early and late in his career, providing a great overview of his innovations. I will always be grateful to Maestro Craft, the friend and helper of the aged Stravinsky, who also championed this other 20th century innovator. However, this collection of major works is far superior in musicianship and impact. Like Craft and his forces, Boulez and company convey the TRUTH OF Schoenberg's scores, but additionally they convey the BEAUTY. Many listeners have still not come to terms with this great composer and may be surprised to see my reference to the beauty of his music. But if they would spend time with concentrated listening to these 11 cds, I am certain both the truth and the beauty of Schoenberg will be revealed. Of the many riches, I would highlight Boulez's triumphal version of MOSES UND ARON." Report Abuse
 Incisive Schoenberg April 29, 2013 By Christopher Abbot (Vineyard Haven, MA) See All My Reviews "Beginning in the mid-70s, several conductors, led by Herbert von Karajan, attempted to come to grips with the Second Viennese School by producing sumptuous orchestral recordings. Not surprisingly, Pierre Boulez eschews this tendency in this very generous collection of Schoenberg's music. These recordings, made in the decade from the mid-70s to the mid-80s, are characterized by crisp tempos, incisive instrumental execution, and a wide-ranging selection of the familiar and the esoteric. The only real competition for this set is the series of recordings conducted by Robert Craft on Naxos, but it isn't nearly as complete as this new set, and (as far as I know) hasn't been collected into a boxed set. I prefer Boulez on the whole, and at this price, the set is a tremendous bargain." Report Abuse
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