Antal Dorati - Alban Berg: Suites from Wozzeck and Lulu/ Gunther Schuller: Seven Studies on Themes of Paul/ Berg: Vienna 1908-1914

 (3 LP/ Book)


Speakers Corner (Mercury Living Presence)



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Preowned Vinyl Box Sets

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Grade: Mint Minus
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No. of Discs: 3


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The first release in this monumental series comprises a three-LP box with music of the 20th Century. The three original releases are excellent recordings and are rarely found in second-hand shops. Consequently, they are extremely expensive.

Alban Berg: Suites from Wozzeck and Lulu/Dorati/London Symphony Orchestra
These suites are among a number of "symphonically condensed" operas that found their way into music history long before they were heard in the opera house. It was all thanks to Hermann Scherchen, who also conducted the premieres, that these pieces were heard in the concert hall. And, in fact, it was Scherchen who suggested that Berg should put together a selection of excerpts from his soldier's tragedy. Both Wozzeck and the characteristic episodes from the man-killing Lulu brought the composer lasting fame. The two suites can be regarded as exemplary of Berg’s art of compositions and of his highly individual interpretation of the 12-tone system as developed by his teacher, Arnold Schoenberg. In spite of the freedom of Berg’s compositional technique, conventional tonal references also shimmer through, thus rendering his music immediately understandable. Dorati’s recording is particularly suitable for easy listening and for becoming acquainted with Berg’s proverbial tonal sensuality.

Gunther Schuller: Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee — Paul Fetler: Contrasts for Orchestra/Dorati/Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra
Whether “fall of man” or “peccadillo”: that colors and forms in painting can inspire a musical masterpiece is an undisputed fact ever since Mussorgsky composed his extremely popular Pictures at an Exhibition and Reger his Boecklin Suite. By comparison, Gunther Schuller’s musical studies on themes by Paul Klee are virtually unknown and recordings hard to come by, although their artistic standard and quality measure up very well to their forebears. The American composer’s works are all brilliant, spiced here and there with a twinkle in his eye and thrillingly arranged.

More exciting American music can be discovered in Paul Fetler’s Contrasts. The contemporary musician describes his four-movement work as a non-traditional symphony, which is given life not through thematic development but by means of rhythmic heartbeat and expanses of meaty chords. If you enjoy Bernstein, Schuman and Copland then Fetler’s Contrasts are definitely for you.

Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, Alban Berg: Vienna 1908-1914/Dorati/London Symphony Orchestra
Schoenberg, Berg, Webern — the names of the teacher and his two pupils — stand for a revolution in music at the beginning of the 20th Century. While Schoenberg demanded freedom of compositional expression, as is amply demonstrated in his expressionistic Five Pieces of Orchestra, Op. 16, such freedom was taken to extremes by his brilliant pupils, as can be observed in Anton Webern’s remarkably individual work. Berg’s musical language became manifest in this key-work of modern music — even after 12-tone music became well established later on, he never quite managed to free himself completely from conventional tonal attributes. Though the compositional methods differ widely in the orchestral works on this recording, they all have one thing in common: maximal tonal diversity.

"Speakers Corner has given these recordings the respect they deserve. The packaging is gorgeous: a black album titled "The Living Presence of 20th Century Music" and displaying the Mercury logo holds the three records with their original covers and liner notes. In addition, there are informative annotations on the music and Dorati, and a history of Mercury Living Presence...They sound at least as good and in some ways better than the originals...There are no negatives and not enough superlatives to describe these magnificent reissues. It's rare that performance, sound, and musical value combine at this level in a recording."
- Arthur B. Lintgen, The Absolute Sound, February/March 2004

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