Schoenberg: String Quartet no.3 op.30, Chamber Symphony op.9 (arr. Webern), Scherzo in F major, Presto in C major

Performances that make even twelve-note Schoenberg communicate freely

 THE STRAD RECOMMENDS

Musicians

Pražák Quartet, Jaromír Klepá? (piano)

Composer

Schoenberg

Catalogue number

Praga digitals PRD/DSD 250 278

Schoenberg’s Third Quartet was among the first works he composed using exclusively dodecaphonic techniques. The shimmering cool and textural hypersensitivity of the LaSalle Quartet (originally Deutsche Grammophon, now available in a Brilliant Classics set) encapsulates the work’s disembodied suspension of reality, whereas the Pražák musicians play up the associations with Brahms’s op.51 quartets, emphasising the composer’s use of rhythm as a principal binding agent. In so doing they discover a warmth and communicability that in this particular work one might have scarcely thought possible.

The Chamber Symphony’s exhilarating amalgam of searing propulsion, bracing tonal interplay and structural concision belongs to the same sonata-hybrid tradition as Beethoven’s ‘Serioso’ String Quartet in F minor op.95. Using Webern’s arrangement for standard piano quintet, the Pražák Quartet (with Jaromír Klepác?) plays with such imperative communicability and fiery virtuosity that one senses the symphony’s profound compression more than ever. This is music that lives on the edge and the Pražák players ride the musical precipice every inch of the way. The early Brahms–cum–Dvor?ák Scherzo and Presto are miniature charmers that on the evidence of these sparklingly affectionate readings should be far better known. A revelatory set of performances, presented in exemplary sound of illuminating detail.

JULIAN HAYLOCK

From the October 2014 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.


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