Those who think of Anton Webern (1883-1945) as strictly an arid serialist should take a listen to this sumptuously played and recorded disc.

Those who think of Anton Webern (1883-1945) as strictly an arid serialist should take a listen to this sumptuously played and recorded disc. The latest in an award-winning Nimbus series of neglected works from jugendstil Vienna by the Artis Quartett Wien—following two sets devoted to Zemlinksy and one to the obscure Karl Weigl—this album comprises the complete works for string quartet/trio by the least understood of Schoenberg's direct progeny. Of course, the echt-Viennese Artis Quartett would play the early Straussian Romanticism of Langsamer Satz as if it were a Klimt painting in sound. But the group interprets Webern's later, more ascetic miniatures with an unprecedented richness of tone and depth of expression. The French Quatuor Debussy recently debuted with a Harmonia Mundi set of Webern that seemed hard to beat—as did the Emerson String Quartet's survey on Deutsche Grammophon before that—but this Artis collection will stand as definitive for most tastes. Moreover, it just might sway those who thought Webern wasn't to their taste at all. Distributed in the U.S. by Allegro Corp.—BB