For all of the "bad boy of modern music" reputation that saddled Schoenberg, particularly in his native Vienna, the composer insisted throughout his life that his work was not a total break with the past, but rather an inevitable progression and extension of many of its ideas and techniques.
This recording features a selection of pieces and fragments written in Schoenberg's earliest years as a composer and, importantly, an amateur player of the cello and viola. Schoenberg was not a conservatory-bred composer, but began by imitating the pieces in his lessons and those he performed with friends. Popular waltzes, folk tunes, and the Romantic repertoire of the day inspired him in these largely self-taught efforts.
The works are performed beautifully and, ironically I suspect, with far greater expertise than Schoenberg and his pals could ever have dreamt of at the time. But the value in hearing these pieces - aside from their straightforward musicality - is they provide at least a window, however speculative, into the man's connection to tradition and understanding of what it meant to be a musician of his time.
A minor but important point to note is the format of this recording is an audio DVD. If you want to listen on a CD player, you'll need something like Cinematize to extract the tracks to CD.