OP3410. MOSES UND ARON (Schönberg), recorded 1995, w.Boulez Cond Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Chris Merritt, David Pittman-Jennings, Yvonne Naef, Pär Lindskog, Siegfried Lorenz, László Polgár, Gabriele Fontana, Nico Pouw, Iris Giel, John Graham Hall, Michael Devlin, Caren van Oijen, Henk de Vries, Jef van Wersch, José Kalthof, Diana Rehbock & Jan Pollak. 2-Deutsche Grammophon 449 174. - 0 28944 91742 0 Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy!
“Of all the great unfinished operatic masterpieces of the 20th century, MOSES UND ARON is the most tantalising. Schönberg composed only two of his projected three acts, and left almost no clues as to what the third would have contained musically; even the libretto is likely to have been heavily revised as he wrote the music. The immediate reasons for his failure to finish a work on which clearly he placed a great deal of importance were external: he was ill, and then with the coming to power of the Nazis in 1933 his teaching position in Berlin immediately became untenable. What is more puzzling is his inability to get down to the work in the last 17 years of his life when he was settled in Los Angeles.
Even the torso that does exist is curious, and it has been described as more akin to an oratorio than an opera, with the chorus playing a vital role in the drama. Yet in intelligent stagings MOSES UND ARON packs a dramatic punch, even without its concluding act.
On disc the detail and expertise of Schönberg's score are endlessly fascinating, and the care with which the drama is plotted - climaxing with the orgiastic worship of the golden calf in Act Two - easy to appreciate. All the available versions have considerable virtues. Pierre Boulez has recorded it twice, with his first version (Sony, with Gunther Reich and Richard Cassilly in the title roles) now edged out of favour by the far better recorded and played version he made in conjunction with the Stein production in Amsterdam. David Pitman-Jennings is the later Moses and Chris Merritt an eloquently plausible Aron, while the playing of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is both stunningly accurate and remarkably beautiful.”
- Andrew Clements, THE GUARDIAN, 4 May 2001
“MOSES UND ARON is respected rather than loved, with the reputation of being a tough assignment for all concerned. One of the essays in the booklet accompanying this recording calls it a didactic opera. Pierre Boulez, however, is a conductor in whom didacticism is close to a passion, and he's obviously passionate about this opera. We take it for granted that, in any work to which he feels close, every detail will be both accurate and audible. But for Schönberg MOSES UND ARON was a warning as well as a homily, and as much a confession of faith as either. Boulez, often himself a Moses preaching against anti-modern backsliding, is at one with Schönberg here.
Some such reason, surely, has led to this being not only a performance of immaculate clarity, but of intense and eloquent beauty and powerful drama too. The recording was made during a run of stage performances, but in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, not in the theatre. In the beautiful acoustic of their own hall, the orchestra plays with ample richness and precision, and the sometimes complex textures benefit enormously from a perceptible space around them.
The choral singing matches the orchestral playing in quality: beautiful in tone, eloquently urgent, vividly precise in the difficult spoken passages.
The soloists are all admirable, with no weak links. Merritt in particular seems to have all that the hugely taxing role of Aron demands: a fine control of long line, intelligently expressive use of words, where necessary the dangerous demagogue's glamour. Pittman-Jennings is a properly prophetic Moses, grand of voice. This is one of Boulez's finest achievements.”
- GRAMOPHONE Classical Music Guide, 2010