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 Search Beat > Arts > Music > Styles > Classical Music > Featured Composer > Arnold Schoenberg


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biography
Despite the revolution that Schoenberg (1874-1951) introduced in 20th-century music through his explorations of atonality, he was firmly grounded in a tradition embracing Wagner, Brahms, and Mahler. Schoenberg's early works are saturated with postromantic richness, while the visionary nature of his mature masterpieces are landmarks in the century's musical evolution.
recommended recordings
  Korngold: Sextet; Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht / Raphael
Composer: Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Arnold Schoenberg
Performer: Sally Beamish, Andrea Hess, et al.
Ensemble: Raphael Ensemble
Hyperion (UK) - #66425 / November 8, 1990

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The playing of The Raphael Ensemble is wonderfully polished, and the account these young musicians deliver has lots of voltage behind it. The opening is extremely atmospheric--hauntingly stark and subdued--but the climactic pages that come later in the piece have rarely been as intensely presented. Hyperion's 1990 recording is outstanding, and the coupling, Korngold's excellent D-major sextet, receives a marvelous performance from the group that rediscovered it. --Ted Libbey

Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire, etc / Boulez, Schäfer, et al

Composer: Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor: Pierre Boulez
Performer: Florent Boffard, Sophie Cherrier, et al.
Ensemble: Ensemble InterContemporain
Uni/Deutsche Grammophon - #457630 / October 20, 1998

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Arnold Schoenberg claimed he had never set out to be a revolutionary. Yet the song cycle he wrote in 1912 based on proto- expressionist poems and featuring a grotesque harlequin figure, Pierrot Lunaire, still reverberates with its haunting, startling originality. This work introduced the world to a hitherto unthought-of musical landscape; to call it innovative would be an absurd understatement. What's particularly exciting about the undertaking here (Boulez's third recorded take on this music)...Read more


Schoenberg: Moses und Aron / Boulez, Royal Concertgebouw
Composer: Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor: Pierre Boulez
Performer: Michael Devlin, Gabriele Fontana, et al.
Ensemble: Netherlands Opera Chorus, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Uni/Deutsche Grammophon - #49174 / October 15, 1996

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In every respect, this Netherlands Opera production of Schoenberg's problematic yet most personal stage work outclasses Pierre Boulez's 1974 BBC recording on Sony. The conductor elicits staggeringly precise yet supple and flexible playing from the Concertgebouw, quite different from the stentorian sheen of Sir Georg Solti/Chicago, even though the all-important chorus is heard to better advantage in the latter. As Moses, David Pittman-Jennings's eloquent Sprechtstimme emphasizes the intensity of...Read more


Schoenberg: The Piano Music / Maurizio Pollini
Composer: Arnold Schoenberg
Performer: Maurizio Pollini
Uni/Deutsche Grammophon - #23249 / June 13, 1988

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The first great pianist to record all of Schoenberg's piano music was Glenn Gould, and if you grew up with Gould's interpretations, then you're in for a shock. In the first place, Pollini actually plays what Schoenberg wrote--Gould freely altered the text in ways that would have driven the composer insane. And then there's the humming--yes, believe it or not, Gould did manage to sing along as he played. Pollini's quieter, less vocal approach conveys much more of what Schoenberg actually wrote,...Read more


Schoenberg: Gurrelieder / Ozawa, Norman, Troyanos, et al
Composer: Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor: Seiji Ozawa, Eliahu Inbal
Performer: David Arnold, Werner Klemperer, et al.
Ensemble: Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood Festival Chorus, et al.
Uni/Philips - #464040 / January 11, 2000

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This is the biggest piece of music that ever gets performed with any regularity. Anyone who avoids Schönberg because his name is synonymous with that nasty, atonal stuff need have no fear. This is a ripely romantic score with big tunes and cinematic orchestration. The story is simple. King Waldemar of Gurre is fooling around with Tove. The queen finds out and has her poisoned. The king curses God, and is condemned to ride on a ghostly hunt throughout all eternity, until the arrival of dawn...Read more


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