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Schönberg: Verklärte Nacht; Brahms: Seranade

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Catalogue No: SOMMCD 0139
Release Date: 05/01/2014
Number of Discs: 1
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Liner Notes
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Schönberg: Verklärte Nacht Op. 4* (Sextet Version)
Caroline Chin* violin 1; Diane Pascal viiolin 2; David Yang* viola 1; Tom Hankey viola 2; Kenneth Woods* cello 1; Matthew Sharp cello 2
*Members of Ensemble Epomeo

Brahms: Seranade Op. 11 (arr. Alan Boustead)+

Orchestra of the Swan, Kenneth Woods, Conductor

Recorded live as part of the Deal Festival, Kent* and the Two Rivers Festival, Bushell Hall, Birkenhead School+

This disc documents the emerging mastery of two of music history’s most powerful and closely linked artistic personalities — Brahms and Schönberg, pairing the original chamber versions of the seminal works of their early maturity, which were primarily known through performances by much larger orchestral forces.

Brahms’s profound influence on Schönberg is clearly evident in his books and essays on Brahms’s music as well as his arrangement of the Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor for full orchestra, now a staple of the orchestral repertoire. Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht is the key work in which his musical personality truly emerged onto the world stage. For much of the last hundred years, the work has been heard in his own arrangement for string orchestra but for this SOMM recording, the String Trio Ensemble Epomeo (Caroline Chin, David Yang and Kenneth Woods) have been joined by a stellar team of colleagues (Diane Pascal, Tom Hankey and Matthew Sharp) for a performance of Schönberg’s original version for string sextet, written in 1899, performed live during the 2013 Deal Festival.

Brahms’s beautiful Serenade in D major, written when he was 25, is a symphony in all but name and was his first major orchestral work. Brahms originally wrote the work for nonet before expanding it for larger forces on the advice of his friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim. Composer Alan Boustead has lovingly reconstructed the lost original version of this work for solo strings, flute, two clarinets, bassoon and horn, heard here in a scintillating performance by players from the Orchestra of the Swan conducted by their Principal Guest Conductor, Kenneth Woods whose first disc for SOMM’s Schönberg chamber versions of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and Lieder Eines fahrenden Gesellen (SOMMCD 0109) received an “IRR Outstanding” rosette and was hailed as “something that every lover of Mahler should hear.”

The Orchestra of the Swan

The Orchestra of the Swan is resident at the Civic Hall in Stratford-on-Avon and is Associate Ensemble at Town Hall, Birmngham. Cellist Raphael Wallfisch is the orchestra’s current Associate Artist, a position previously held by Benjamin Grosvenor, Tamsin Waley-Cohen, Tasmin Little and Julian Lloyd Webber. OOTS perform each year at major concert venues and festivals throughout England and Wales, including Cadogan Hall London, Symphony Hall Birmingham, Warwick Arts Centre, St. John’s, Smith Square, the Three Choirs Fesitval, St George’s Brandon Hill Bristol, and the Lichfield and Deal Festivals.

OOTS is a champion of new music, having commissioned work from Joe Cutler, Tansy Davies, Alexander Goehr, John Joubert, Roxanna Panufnik, Errollyn Wallen, John Woolrich and many others. In 2011 the orchestra was selected by the Royal Philharmonic Society as recipietns of the prestigious ‘Composer in the House’ award, supporting a commissioning partnership with Huw Watkins in 2012-14.

Kenneth Woods

Hailed by Gramophone Magazine as a “symphonic conductor of stature”, conductor and cellist Kenneth Woods has worked with many orchestras of international distinction, including the National Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Royal Northern Sinfonia, New Queen’s Hall Orchestra, Royal Phlharmonic Orchestra and the State of Mexico Symphony. In 2013 he was appointed Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the English Symphony Orchestra, succeeding the late Vernon Handley.

Kenneth Woods was appointed Principal Guest Conductgor of the Orchestra of the Swan in 2010 and since then he has recorded the complete symphonies of Hans Gál coupled with those of Robert Schumann to great acclaim. As a cellist he is active as both chamber musician and soloist. Woods is also a composer, writer and lecturer. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC on music, conducting and performance and has written features for Gramophone, BBC Music and Listen magazines. His blog, A view from the Podium, is widely read and admired.

On This Recording

  1. Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night): Sehr langsam
  2. Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night): Schwer betont —
  3. Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night): Sehr breit und langsam —
  4. Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night): Sehr ruhig
  5. Serenade No. 1: I. Allegro molto
  6. Serenade No. 1: II. Scherzo: Allegro non troppo
  7. Serenade No. 1: III. Adagio non troppo
  8. Serenade No. 1: IV. Menuetto I-II
  9. Serenade No. 1: V. Scherzo: Allegro
  10. Serenade No. 1: VI. Rondo: Allegro