Andrew Clements 

Music of Our Time: Special Edition – review

Of the discs brought together to mark Wergo's half century, those of Dieter Schnebel and Luigi Nono stand out, says Andrew Clements
  
  

Though CD labels dedicated to 20th and 21st-century repertoire are now almost commonplace across Europe and North America, Wergo more or less had the contemporary field to itself when it was launched 50 years ago. To mark its half century the German-based label has brought together discs originally released in each of the five decades of its activities. It begins with a survey of Stravinsky's music for two pianos, including the Sonata and the Concerto, which the Kontarsky brothers, Alfons and Aloys, recorded in 1962. It ends with a collection of early Stockhausen pieces that Ensemble Recherche put together three years ago, with works such as Kontra-Punkte, Zeitmasze and Refrain. Much of the music included has subsequently been recorded by other groups, often in better sound, but two of the discs are particularly interesting. Works by the 82-year-old theologian and composer Dieter Schnebel are rare on disc even now, and here his Choralvorspiele I/II is paired with Atemzüge from his important collection Maulwerke. And a disc from the late 1990s devoted to Luigi Nono ranges right across his career, from the 1951 Polifonica-Monodia-Ritmica to the spare, etiolated "Hay Que Caminar" Soñando, for two violins completed in 1989, the year before his death.