B000LXIMYM-01-_SS500_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgArnold Schoenberg: Early and Unknown String Works

Rangzen Quartet & Strings, Christina Fong

OgreOgress Productions

1. Sonnenschein-Polka [Sunshine Polka] for 2 violins (after 1882) {U10} [3:09]
2. “Alliance” Walzer ["Alliance" Waltz] for 2 violins (after 1882) {U10} [5:41]
3. Lied ohne Worte [Song Without Words] in B-flat major for 2 violins (after 1882) {U10} [3:05]
4. Idylles Lied ohne Worte [Idyllic Song Without Words] in C major for 2 violins (after 1882) {U10} [2:34]
5. Lied ohne Worte [Song Without Words] in A minor for 2 violins (after 1882) {U10} [2:29]
6. Geburtstags-Marsch [Birthday March] for 2 violins and viola (after 1882) [1 part] {U10} [4:01]
7. Romance Ré mineur [Romance in D minor] for 2 violins and viola (after 1882) [2 parts] {U10} [8:32]
8. String Quartet in F major (before 1897) [fragment] {U119} [:33]
9. Gavotte und Musette (im alten Style) [Gavotte and Musette (in old style)] for string orchestra (1897) [original version] {U193} [2:18]

11 Walzer für Streichorchester [11 Waltzes for String Orchestra] (1897)
10. I. Krí¤ftig {U566} [1:12]
11. II. Nicht zu rasch {U567} [1:13]
12. III. Etwas langsam {U568} [1:11]
13. IV. Etwas rasch {U569} [1:33]
14. V. Rasch {U571} [1:37]
15. VI. {U573} [1:57]
16. VII. Krí¤ftig {U582} [1:22]
17. VIII. Getragen {U584} [1:18]
18. IX. Lebhaft {U586} [1:24]
19. X. Nicht rasch {U575} [2:17]
20. XI. Allegro rasch [fragment] {U578} [:17]

21. Toter Winkel for string sextet (1899) [fragment] {U167} [1:46]

String Quartet in D minor (1904) [fragments]
22. Nicht rasch {U121} [:54]
23. Sketch for the Langsam movement [1] {U129} [:17]
24. Sketch for the Langsam movement [2] {U129} [:24]
25. Sketch for the Langsam movement [3] {U130} [:21]
26. Langsam [double fugue, version 1] {U121} [3:29]
27. Langsam [double fugue, version 2] {U125} [3:33]

28. String Quartet in C major (after 1904) [fragment] {U142} [1:01]
29. String Quintet in D major (1905) [fragment] {Sk45} [:32]
30. String Septet (1918) [fragment] {U175} [:54]
31. String Quartet Movement (1926) [fragment] {U133} [:26]

String Quartet (1926) [fragments]
32. Beginning of a movement [version 1] {U137} [:14]
33. Beginning of a movement [version 2] {U137} [:13]
34. Beginning of a movement [version 3] {U138} [:12]
35. Theme for another movement {U137} [:24]
36. Violin/cello duo for another movement {U139} [:08]
37. Violin theme for another movement {U141} [:29]

38. Untitled in D major (1926) [fragment] {U549} [:12]
39. String Quartet in C major (after 1927) [fragment] {U107} [1:49]
40. Mirror Canon in A major for string quartet (after 1930) {XXXIII} [:27]
41. Fugue [arranged for string quartet by Stephen Dembski] (1938) [fragment] {Ms95} [1:27]

String Quartet #5 (1949) [fragments]
42. I. {U143} [:39]
43. II. {U144} [:21]
44. III. {U145} [:44]
45. IV. {U147} [:57]

This is an audio DVD containing 45 tracks of little known and unknown works for various string groupings by Schoenberg, the vast majority of which represent early compositions, many of which are fragments. All of us who compose have various fragments representing ideas we eventually abandon, and Schoenberg was no different. Similarly, we all have early works that we like and want to see performed, along with other early works that we would prefer never see the light of day.

It’s hard to say why some of the works on this DVD were not pursued to completion by Schoenberg, and it’s an interesting debate as to whether or not Schoenberg would have wanted them published, performed and even recorded. Regardless, here is a wealth of music that is of interest both on a musical and a musicological level. Indeed, none of this music has been previously recorded, and eight of the works are heard in their entirety.

It is a shame that many of these works remain as fragments. I was particularly intrigued by the promise of the unpublished, and incomplete, String Quartet #5 (1949). Unfortunately, what exists of the score is extremely short and fragmented, lasting less than three minutes in total. That’s even shorter than Webern’s op. 28 Quartet. Some measures resemble portions of the late Trio for Strings, which is a very underappreciated and underperformed masterpiece. It is interesting to compare many of the works on this disc with some of Schoenberg’s more mature and complete works for strings. In some cases, these works, even when fragmented, presage some of the better known compositions, such as the first two string quartets.

While these are not major works, even those that are performed in their entirety, it is pleasant music, much like some of the early music of Webern and other German/Austrian composers from the very early 20th century. For those who still doubt that Schoenberg could write very easygoing, “conventional” music, this album should dispel those misconceptions. The performances are first rate, and genuinely capture the Viennese gestalt. The engineering is also very well done. Of particular mention are the extensive liner notes, unusual for an independent label to have provided. My only regret is that the author, Severine Neff, is mentioned more prominently; I finally found the attribution on the small side of the DVD insert. I’m also puzzled why there is an insert with a continuation of the text that is smaller than the rest of the liner notes, but that’s a very minor issue. In all, it’s a very noble release of historic importance, but it leaves me wishing Schoenberg had finalized more of his music, particularly his fifth quartet.

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