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Schonberg: Die Gluckliche Hand; Berg, Webern / Gielen


Release Date: 08/01/2004 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 93060   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Arnold SchoenbergAlban BergAnton WebernEduard Steuermann,   ... 
Performer:  John BröchelerMelanie DienerChristiane Oelze
Conductor:  Michael Gielen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio ChorusSouthwest German Radio Symphony OrchestraAnton Webern Choir Freiburg
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Not surprising at all, considering Gielen’s musical pedigree, is that he speaks the vocabulary of the Second Vienna School with particular fluency. His disc of these composers is on a similar level to the Bruckner, and here in this difficult repertoire, the SWF players outdo themselves. The conductor’s unfussy yet sympathetic manner pays great rewards in Schoenberg’s Glückliche Hand, the ever unpopular though highly expressive and strangely beautiful drama of endless seeking. Gielen perfectly evokes the eerie moonlit landscape and its ominous undercurrents with its ostinato rhythm of tympani and harp in a musically transparent landscape. Baritone John Broecheler sings of his sehnsucht well, though I can only imagine what Thomas Read more Quastoff would bring to this part. The powerful third picture—“Das kann man einfacher!” is striking in its richly colorful and dramatic effects. Overall, this is a virtuoso performance of great insight and, dare I say, affection. Listening to it almost had me on the phone booking my ticket to Baden-Baden to hear Gielen and his forces live.

The equally unloved Der Wein reveals its wine-induced splendors under Gielen’s knowing direction. Although the piece is famously elusive, its opening conjured the image of the score to an imaginary French film-noir. (French was the language of my first acquaintance with Der Wein: a performance given in French by Phyllis Curtin, later recorded with Erich Leinsdorf.) Here, Melanie Diener, a superb Wagnerian, makes a most convincing case for Berg’s music, pointing text and musical phrases with fervor and a great deal of tonal beauty.

The fleeting and evanescent beauties of Webern’s Five Pieces—five musical diamonds—seem somehow longer and more substantial here, such care is taken by Gielen in creating fresh, transparent textures. Webern’s Cantata features Gielen’s excellent choir, and lyric soprano Christiane Oelze is as expressive and impressive as is Diener in the Berg.

Neither Steuermann’s brief set of Variations nor Gielen’s own, lengthy composition are on the level of the works previously mentioned, but this disc’s revelatory Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern are reward enough.

-- Michael Fine, FANFARE [5/2003]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Die glückliche Hand, Op. 18 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  John Bröcheler (Baritone)
Conductor:  Michael Gielen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Chorus,  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Der Wein by Alban Berg
Performer:  Melanie Diener (Soprano)
Conductor:  Michael Gielen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; Austria 
3.
Pieces (5) for orchestra, Op. 10 by Anton Webern
Conductor:  Michael Gielen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Modern 
Written: 1911-1913; Austria 
4.
Cantata no 1, Op. 29 by Anton Webern
Performer:  Christiane Oelze (Soprano)
Conductor:  Michael Gielen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Anton Webern Choir Freiburg
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938-1939; Austria 
5.
Variations for Orchestra by Eduard Steuermann
Conductor:  Michael Gielen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; USA 
6.
Pflicht und Neigung by Michael Gielen
Conductor:  Michael Gielen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 

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