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Jeff Simon
The Buffalo News, October 2009

A collection of discs, most previously released, in an enormously important series begun in the early ’90s on Koch. Robert Craft’s two greatest claims to fame (and/or infamy) are: 1) His notorious collaboration with Stravinsky at the end of the great composer’s life, when books were published under Stravinsky’s name that were largely by Craft, and 2) His groundbreaking complete set of the works of Webern (not to mention his early Gesualdo recordings). He is, then, a remarkable conductor of the composer with the frequently unwarranted reputation for being the sternest climb in 20th century music. You won’t find Craft recording either of the great, late Romantic Schoenberg masterworks here—“Verklaerte Nact” and “Pelleas Und Melisande”—but you will find the big Variations Op. 41, the Violin Concerto and the notably ear-friendly adaptations of Bach, Brahms and Monn.

James Leonard, October 2009

Robert Craft performed a valuable service by recording the complete works of Arnold Schoenberg at a time when many of them were not otherwise available. Though the American conductor was Igor Stravinsky’s dedicated musical amanuensis during the Russian composer’s final decades, he was also devoted to the works of the Austrian composer, and these recordings testify to the degree of his devotion. Using world-class orchestras such as the Philharmonia and the London Symphony, Craft creates unfailingly precise readings of such tremendously difficult works as Variations for Orchestra and Five Pieces for Orchestra. Using first-rank soloists like mezzo-soprano Jennifer Lane and bass Stephen Varcoe, Craft delivers uncannily accurate accounts of the Serenade and the one-act opera, Die glücklicke Hand…These letter-perfect readings inspire admiration…Originally recorded by Koch International and re-issued by Naxos, the digital sound here is rich, deep and colorful…

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