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ABC Radio 24 Hours, February 2001

"It's good to see a 'Super-Bargain' edition of Schoenberg under way, especially when at least two of the three performances on this disc are so good. Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony No 1 of 1906 is an undoubted masterpiece, and the composer began No2 only weeks later. For whatever reason, he then set it aside, only returning to it in 1939. Both the chamber symphonies are tonal but, 30 years on, Schoenberg was composing 12-tone works. He tried to complete the symphony 'in style', but it's not really convincing, and remains of interest largely because it's by Schoenberg. Still, the performance is crisp and spirited. The brief and effective Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene is a gem from the composer's 12-tone years. The film scene in question existed only in Schoenberg's heard, but it must have looked pretty grisly. This is really an expressionist work after its time. Takuo Yuasa draw an atmospheric performance from the orchestra that bodes well for the final work, the early tone poem Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night)...Full marks to Naxos for including the poem, in German and English, that inspired Verklarte Nacht."

Matthew Rye
BBC Music Magazine, October 2000

"As an example of Naxos's daring these days, for only its second disc of Schoenberg, it has headed for the Second Chamber Symphony - a work begun in 1906 but not completed after 1939 - rather than the familiar First. Like the Gurrelieder, which was part-orchestrated after Schoenberg's style had moved on from his late-Romantic phase, so the Second Chamber Symphony bears the mark of those missing 33 years in its combination of chromaticism and more acerbic dynamism. The Ulster Orchestra gives a vibrant performance of the work."

Stephen Pettit
, September 2000

"The Ulster Orchestra is not one of the nation's glamorous ensembles, but, given the right inspiration, it has its moments. It is difficult, however, to think of a company other than Naxos who would risk this repertoire with any orchestra. Schoenberg is bad box office, the arithmetic of his 12-note system seen as a stifler rather than an enabler of the imagination. There's certainly a free spirit, evident in Yuasa's conducting, about the Second Chamber Symphony, completed in 1939. Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene (1929-30) is more hauntingly expressionistic in nature, more psychologically far-reaching, and is given a reading that should win converts, while the late-Romantic Verklärte Nacht offers lush, searingly erotic indulgence."

Victor Carr, September 2000


"This is one those discs that I feel are best played from start to finish. The program begins with the fretful, almost despairing, yet strangely beautiful sounds of Schoenberg's Second Chamber Symphony which, after a scherzando second movement, returns to the threatening tone of the beginning. Schoenberg made a compromised return to tonality in this, and other late works, and as such it represents sort of a bridge to his 12-tone technique. It also provides an ideal aural preparation for the following Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene, which sounds less forbidding (and very exciting) now that our ears have been stretched a bit. The sensuous strains of Verklärte Nacht come as a rewarding desert. Few works create as irresistible a spell as this, and the Ulster Orchestra's strings weave out Schoeberg's gossamer textures like so many spider webs. ...Yuasa's performances are really very good. Anyone who wants this combination will be very happy with Naxos' beautifully recorded, budget priced offering."

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