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Matthew Rye
The Strad, February 2014

Winning accounts of some of Schoenberg’s seminal string works

This quartet is not an easy work to project, with its single, 45-minute span encompassing all traditional four movements of the medium, but the Fred Sherry Quartet, led by no less a violinist than Leila Josefowicz, has its measure. The polyphony is well conveyed, not least thanks to the way the recording places the four players in perceptibly discrete positions in the stereo spread…And there’s a real sense of interplay between the musicians, as well as an almost analytical exposition of the way Schoenberg engages with his material, inspired as it is by Lisztian thematic metamorphosis.

Verklärte Nacht emerges as one of the most humane and well-argued interpretations of its string sextet version, with a strong emotional imperative and a loving attention to textural detail. Four of Schoenberg’s playful Canons provide a sorbet-like refreshment after all the heat of the main works. © 2014 The Strad Read complete review

Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, January 2014

The Fred Sherry Quartet plays this music with incredible energy and passionate emotional commitment, which is really the only way to play Schoenberg.

I really enjoyed these pieces and the Sherry Quartet’s performances of them. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, November 2013

These are revealing performances of seminal works by Arnold Schoenberg…As an added plus, they are all highly listenable, as well. They reveal the personality and artistic aims of the young composer better than any actual biography.

String Quartet No 1…shows Schoenberg already hard at work reconciling the structural logic of Brahms with the chromaticism of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

It is also very emotionally intense music. The Fred Sherry Quartet, consisting of Leila Josefowicz and Jesse Mills, violins; Hsin-Yun Huang, viola; and Sherry himself on cello, do a commendable job staying on top of the many textural changes in a work that is unforgiving of any sloppiness, while still keeping their fingers on the pulse of its high intensity.

Verklärte Nacht…in which Josefowicz and Sherry are joined by David Chan, violin; Paul Neubauer and Yura Lee, violas; and Michael Nicolas, cello, was a work of which Schoenberg was particularly proud, being a successful synthesis of tone poem and chamber music. © 2013 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review

Andrew Clements
The Guardian, September 2013

top-quality performances © The Guardian Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2013

If you are one of those many music-lovers who avoid anything written by Arnold Schoenberg, then please buy this disc and rethink his position in musical history. He came at the crossroads of the twentieth century, and in Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night) we can see the final flowering of the post-Romantic era, and anything that came later in that genre from anyone else was only a throwback to an expired musical form. Its premiere in 1903 caused a storm in the concert hall that rivalled that given to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, though heard today it was an erotic extension of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, the pure passion and raw emotions expressed by a string sextet being ample proof of the composer’s superb use of instruments. It does, of course, exist in the version for string orchestra, and has been recorded as such, though as a chamber work we are better able to hear the individual strands that create the complex instrumental interaction. If Schoenberg had nowhere left to go is evidenced in the First String Quartet completed six years later in 1905. In a score not that far short of fifty minutes, he seems to be searching for that road, pages of contrapuntal writing taking the place of development sections. He toys with the advent of atonality mixed into the ‘conventional’ world of tonality, abstract idioms mixing with a programme of pictorial ideas that we know existed at the time of composition. For the performers the work is physically demanding and technically difficult, Mahler once describing it as more complex than his own symphonies. The disc is completed by Four Canons from Thirty Canons that prove Schoenberg’s academic rectitude. There are passing moments when intonation has to take second place to interpretive intensity, but these are passionately intense performances very well recorded. © 2013 David’s Review Corner

Blair Sanderson

…the performances by the Fred Sherry String Quartet and the Fred Sherry String Sextet are among the most focused and committed that can be found. Listeners trying to appreciate Schoenberg’s development would do well to use this CD as a starting point. © Read complete review

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