Scaled-down yet sumptuous Viennese chamber works

Schoenberg linos

The Strad Issue: February 2018  
Description: Scaled-down yet sumptuous Viennese chamber works  
Musicians: Linos Ensemble, Zoryana Kushpler (mezzo-soprano)  
Works: SCHOENBERG Chamber Symphony no.1 op.9 (arr. Webern). ZEMLINSKY Six Maeterlinck Songs op.13 (arr. Stein/Tarkmann). BUSONI Berceuse élégiaque op.42 (arr. Stein)  
Catalogue Number: CAPRICCIO C 5138

This is the fourth disc in a series in which the German Linos Ensemble is exploring the legacy of the Association for Private Musical Performances, a concert-giving society set up by Arnold Schoenberg in Vienna in 1918 to promote the music of his contemporaries in a sympathetic environment. Most works were presented in scaled-down arrangements and hence we have Webern’s version of Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony made for the same combination as Pierrot lunaire : flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano. Schoenberg pupil Erwin Stein was responsible for Busoni’s Berceuse élégiaque and two of Zemlinsky’s Maeterlinck songs, arranged for flute, clarinet, solo strings, piano and harmonium. More recently, Linos commissioned Andreas N. Tarkmann to complete the Zemlinsky cycle in the same style.

The results here are both luminous and full-bodied and while the repertoire is not especially string-focused, there’s a sympathetic, chamber music give and take to the performances from all concerned. If one is to be pernickety, Winfried Rademacher’s violin is a little over-swoopy in the Chamber Symphony, but otherwise everything’s well matched and well blended, and the German Radio recordings are warm and generous. Zoryana Kushpler’s sumptuous voice is a real treat in the Zemlinsky, where the ensemble is also at its most searing.