WORKS: Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16 (arr. Greissle); Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19
PERFORMER: Houston Symphony Chamber Players/Christoph Eschenbach
CATALOGUE NO: 3-7496-2
Berg’s transcription for violin, clarinet and piano of the slow movement from his Chamber Concerto is an item that gets an occasional airing, if not always in so warm a performance as here; but the chamber arrangement of Schoenberg’s seminal Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16, by his son-in-law Felix Greissle is both a rarity and a curiosity. Whether it was this transcription that prompted Schoenberg himself to produce his own version for reduced orchestral forces towards the end of his life is difficult to say. Certainly, for all the skill of Greissle’s arrangement, the ‘Peripateia’ of the penultimate piece cries out for greater weight; while the sharply etched sonorities of the small ensemble make it difficult for the shimmering colour-changes of the famous third piece, depicting the play of light on a lake’s surface, to melt imperceptibly into each other as they should.
Schoenberg’s aphoristic Op. 19 Piano Pieces and Webern’s Op. 27 Variations are very well played indeed, presumably by Eschenbach himself (the booklet’s track-listing provides few clues to help identify the musicians involved), and the control of David Peck’s pianissimo clarinet-playing, both in the Berg Chamber Concerto slow movement and in the same composer’s Four Pieces, Op. 5, is remarkable. Misha Donat