Schoenberg: Lieder / Jasmine Law, Nancy Loo
Essentially self-taught, Schoenberg graduated from playing cello and piano as a teenager to writing his own music through the medium of song. The lyrical tendency in his music is under-appreciated because of the attention drawn to his harmonic innovations such as the twelve-tone system, but Schoenberg began composing, like so many of his predecessors, with the impulse to set poetry to melody and to capture transcendent states – love, longing and death – in music. Accordingly any recorded survey of Schoenberg’s songs still has much to show us about his place at the culmination of a heritage stretching back to Beethoven and Schubert.
The Hong Kong-based duo of Jasmine Law and Nancy Loo open this personal selection from his song output with the yearning impressionism of the Four Songs Op.2 (1899), setting poetry by Richard Dehmel whose ‘Transfigured Night’ was inspiring Schoenberg at the same time to compose an instrumental setting for string sextet, Verklärte Nacht. From the spring of 1907, the ballad of Lady Jane Grey, Op.12 No.1, inhabits the same mystical world as the Second String Quartet in which Schoenberg first composed with a tone row and also set the poetry of the German symbolist Stefan George. A more thoroughgoing engagement with George’s work then inspired Schoenberg’s most substantial contribution to the literature of art-song with his Op.15 collection, The Book of the Hanging Gardens. This collection, in the tradition of An die ferne Geliebte, sets a doomed love story in a sequence of 15 short songs. It shares an atonal language with Pierrot Lunaire and other, more superficially radical breaks with tradition, but The Book of the Hanging Gardens glistens and shimmers with a playful harmonic language which makes clear Schoenberg’s roots in the Romanticism of Brahms and Zemlinsky.
Release Date: April 22, 2022
Catalog Number: BRI96503
Label: Brilliant Classics
Number of Discs: 1
Period: 20th Century
Performer: Jasmine Law