Alban Berg Orchestral Works/Venzago

0 of 5 stars

Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op.6
Der Wein [2 versions, one sung in French, one in German]
Wozzeck – Three Fragments
Lulu – Symphonic Suite
Violin Concerto
Berg, orch. Verbey
Piano Sonata, Op.1
Berg, arr. Borries
Johann Strauss II, arr. Berg
Wein, Weib und Gesang! – Waltz, Op.333

Geraldine McGreevy (soprano)

Robert Murray (tenor)

Isabelle van Keulen (violin)

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Mario Venzago

Recorded in the Konserthuset, Gothenburg, Sweden between August 2004 and August 2007

Reviewed by: Peter Reed

Reviewed: March 2009
CHSA 5074 (2 SACDs)
Duration: 2 hours 37 minutes



Sprechgesang. The huge D minor ‘hole’ of the conclusion is thrillingly catastrophic, and overall Venzago captures the evanescent, flashing textures of Berg’s virtuoso orchestration.

Just as telling is the very satisfying performance of the “Lulu” selection, a potent act of compression that captures the essence of Frank Wedekind’s and Berg’s amoral force of nature. Geraldine McGreevy is superb in ‘Lulu’s Song’, delivering the wild melismas with admirable recklessness, and as Countess Geschwitz she gives a powerful farewell to the murdered Lulu. Alwa’s love music in the first section creates a torpid atmosphere of claustrophobic anomie. Venzago, again, lays out the music’s structures with an easy, natural clarity, and has a sure hand on the score’s range, from cabaret burlesque to blood-curdling melodrama.

Listeners might like to compare the French and German versions of “Der Wein“, written as a study for “Lulu”. The booklet doesn’t reveal the point of recording the two versions. Both versions here are for full orchestra. Geraldine McGreevy (in the German version) is a bit too controlled and could have done with some of Robert Murray’s fierce delirium in the French setting.

This release concludes with Berg’s transcription of Johann Strauss II’s Wine, Women and Song waltz, for a chamber group including piano and accordion. Elegant, sly and totally Viennese, its style hovers somewhere between Brahms and Schrammelmusik, and is a complete pleasure.

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