Friday 31 March 1995
Almost every stage of Webern's stylistic progress is represented here. There's the nostalgic romanticism of the Slow Movement for String Quartet, the striving after new sensations in the one movement String Quartet of 1905, the sense of doors opening on fantastic new worlds in the Five Movements and the Six Bagatelles, and finally the thorny asceticism of the Op 28 Quartet and the String Trio.
Instead of presenting the works chronologically, the Emersons move backwards and forwards in time, sometimes making abrupt contrasts, more often allowing us to hear fascinating similarities: the early twilit romanticism is haunted by pre-echoes of the expressionist night; conversely even the tiny Bagatelles have their emotionally revealing moments, a kind of minutely concentrated rhetoric. The playing revels in the range of moods and colours - so much so that you might even find the disc too rich to be sampled in one go. That's hardly a problem, though. At a time when Webern is deeply out of fashion, it's encouraging to find an ensemble of this calibre demonstrating faith in him. If you feel drawn to reappraise Webern, there's no better place to start. SJ
.Shostakovich: Symphony No10. Mussorgsky, orch Shostakovich: Songs and Dances of Death. Philadelphia Orchestra/ Mariss Jansons (EMI 5 55232 2)
The opening paragraph, rising and falling with the movement of deep-set string basses, is beautifully sculpted. But I can't say that I was truly drawn into the subtext until the bassoon and his sinister cousin, the contra- bassoon, began their long, slow descent into the substratum of the development. Jansons mounts a tremendous climax there, stretching the intensity of the pay-off with an unmarked tenuto over the final protestations of horns and low-pitched trumpets. But again, as two piccolos survey the aftermath, why does their desolation not get to me? Jansons is a major talent: the musical values are high, the keenness of detail exceptional. But it's that final step - the moment at which the spirit transcends the letter of the score - that sometimes eludes him. He bullies the Philadelphia into a white-knuckle ride through that rampaging Scherzo: mad-dog Stalin in season. Could he have driven the post-Stalin celebrations at the close a little harder and faster? I think so. But it's impressive. As is Robert Lloyd in the Songs and Dances of Death, working the bitter irony of the texts like a deluded Boris Godunov. ES
filmIn Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke beats opponent 33 years his junior in exhibition boxing match
- 2 Exodus Gods and Kings casting controversy: Ridley Scott would never cast 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 3 Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
- 4 Today was a bad day for renters, landlords, and democracy
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Star Wars The Force Awakens trailer: What we know about JJ Abrams' film
Exodus Gods and Kings casting controversy: Ridley Scott would never cast 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
Christmas TV schedule 2014: The best shows to watch from Downton Abbey to Black Mirror
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
David Cameron sets out immigration reforms: We should distrust Ukip and their 'snake-oil of simple solutions'
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police