The greatest of Mozart's wind serenades and the toughest of Alban Berg's major works might seem an unlikely pairing, but in an interview included with the sleeve notes for this release, Pierre Boulez points up their similarities. Both works are scored for an ensemble of 13 wind instruments (with solo violin and piano as well in the Berg) and both include large-scale variations as one of their movements - and Boulez makes the comparisons plausible enough in these lucid performances. It's rare to hear him conducting Mozart, too, and if the performance is a little brisker and more strait-laced than ideal, the EIC's phrasing is a model of clarity and good taste. It's the performance of the Berg, though, that makes this such an important issue; both soloists, Mitsuko Uchida and Christian Tetzlaff, are perfectly attuned to Boulez's approach - they have given a number of performances of the Chamber Concerto before - and the combination of accuracy and textural clarity with the highly wrought expressiveness that is the essence of Berg's music is perfectly caught.
2014 marks a year of celebration recognizing the 150th birthday year of the German late-Romantic orchestral, operatic and lied master composer, Richard Strauss (1864-1949). Arabella (premiered 1933, Dresden) was the last of the half dozen Strauss works to feature a libretto by the great Austrian writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal. This production, from the most recent Salzburg Easter Festival is, after Capriccio, the second of three Richard Strauss operas C Major is releasing in honor of the composers birth, life and work. The star-laden cast includes soprano Renèe Fleming, baritone Thomas Hampson, Albert Dohmen (Covent Garden, Wiener Staatsoper, MET) and Gabriela Beaková (Wiener Staatsoper, Covent Garden). With Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden, the music of Richard Strauss is in the best of hands. (ORF) Thielemann gets the best out of the cast…especially Renée Fleming with her luxurious soprano.
Violinist Arabella Steinbacher and pianist Robert Kulek continue their great collaboration with a new PENTATONE release, the recording of Cesar Franck’s Sonata for Piano and Violin in A, which joins Richard Strauss’ Sonata for Violin and Piano in E-flat, Op. 18. While Franck’s violin sonata is epic in character, Strauss’ work is full of jovial energy, hope and anticipation. This fusion of elements brilliantly demonstrates the synergy between Steinbacher and Kulek, something we have witnessed during their recital performances over the past few years.
These first complete recordings of the string quartets of Schoenberg, Berg, Webern and Zemlinsky have won numerous international awards and been hailed as landmarks in the discography of 20th-century music. Impeccable ensemble, superbly blended timbre and pure intonation ….This set [Schoenberg, Berg, Webern] is indeed a wonderful achievement (MusicWeb International). Febrile intensity and faultless proportioning of each formal structure [Zemlinsky] (Guardian).
Excellent value box containing all of Berg's major works. The best performance is maybe Abbado's of Wozzeck. This is a live recording and sounds like it;very exciting orchestral playing that sometimes almost drowns out the voices . I dont think this is a problem as it kind of fits with opera's theme of helpless people up against forces they cant control etc. The Boulez recording of Lulu is also very good but here the lack of libretto in the package is a bit annoying as the opera has a very elaborate plot and the synopsis provided isnt really detailed enough to follow what's going on.