Robert Craft Collection
Chamber Symphony No. 2, Philharmonia Orchestra, Robert Craft
Die glückliche Hand, Mark Beesley, bass; Simon Joly Chorale; Philharmonia Orchestra, Robert Craft
Wind Quintet, New York Woodwind Quintet
The overall quality of the Robert Craft Collection on Naxos continues with this Schoenberg disc. What interests me are some of the notes included that talk about how Chamber Symphony No. 2 “ought to be the most popular of Schoenberg’s later masterpieces.” The piece gets a wonderful and sultry performance by the Philharmonia Orchestra but I must say I still prefer the first Chamber Symphony. I think the overall maturity of Chamber Symphony No. 2, both in composition and performance, is something that is lost on me. I still prefer the “Richard Strauss on meth” energy of the earlier work. In time, I’m sure that will change.
Die glückliche Hand gets a great and powerful, and overly creepy, performance. Mark Beesley is clearly comfortable in The Man’s overall discomfort and his voice is well tuned to the wacky expressionist angst that surrounds him. The Wind Quintet, a work that is not often performed nor recorded, also gets great treatment for this CD. The notes talk mainly about the speed at which the New York Wind Quintet plays the work (being one of the only recordings or performances lasting under an hour). This is a beefy and thorny work which commands virtuosity on all levels from every performer all the time. The ensemble has a terrific mastery of the piece and they do not make the quintet sound as hard and laborious as it really is. The Wind Quintet could be as hard to listen to as it is to play (and I’m a fan of Schoenberg’s music) but the New York Wind Quintet really takes control and delivers a great performance. At some point, I know that these Craft Collection discs will stop. I hope it isn’t soon…