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Arnold Schoenberg

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht is the main piece I know, both Orchestral and Sextet (I think I enjoy the Sextet version a tad better, more personal like the piece itself).

Any thoughts on where to go from here with Schoenberg? I was looking at his Gurrelieder next.

Scott
post #2 of 27
Never really appreciated 12-tone scales...forced myself to go through the violin concerto, even played by my favorite artis (Hilary Hahn), but to n avail...
post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottder View Post

Any thoughts on where to go from here with Schoenberg? I was looking at his Gurrelieder next.

Scott
This piece is very much an extension of Mahler's late works. If you like the 8th symphony and The Song of the Earth..........you may enjoy this work. If you are unfamiliar with the Mahler works which precede this work's style I would suggest hearing them first.
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post
This piece is very much an extension of Mahler's late works. If you like the 8th symphony and The Song of the Earth..........you may enjoy this work. If you are unfamiliar with the Mahler works which precede this work's style I would suggest hearing them first.
I am familiar with Mahler quite a bit.

Scott
post #5 of 27
Sorry ~ I tried to love Schoenberg. In the end, it felt like a battle with the toilet paper in the toilet with severe duodecaphonic constipation...
post #6 of 27
Schoenberg's Five pieces for Orchestra is quite beautiful.
+ YouTube Video
post #7 of 27
The obvious works are the early ones - Gurrelieder is quite approachable, as is the early tone poem Pelleas und Melisande. The Chamber Symphonies are still tonal enough to be quite approachable, although the hauntingly retro 2nd symphony is more appealing to me. The Op.16 Orchestral Pieces are similarly magical and full of interesting things.

I find the neoclassical concertos hard going myself - the Hilary Hahn version of the Violin Concerto is the best I have heard, and even then I don't love the work. Actually most of this early serialist period of Schoenberg's output is less than appealing to me - its as if he had to prove his method on old forms, but somewhere lost the sense of fantasy he had, replacing it with dense counterpoint.

Of chamber music the obvious piece is Pierrot Lunaire, which is not only important but enjoyable in an ingratiating kind of way. The 3rd String Quartet likewise is important - but any of these dense works are enjoyable to listen to. I have always liked the late String Trio, it is intense (starting with a depiction of medical injections to the heart), but it is also memorable.

I find Schoenberg, while the most important obviously of the Berg/Webern/Schoenberg triumvirate, probably the hardest work of them. Berg (the Chamber Concerto aside) is simply enjoyable, while Webern is self evidently great (his Op.21 Symphony is the best written in the twentieth century as far as I am concerned).
post #8 of 27
Having not heard much Schoenberg, this thread interests me. The only CD I own is Paul Jacobs playing solo piano music and I like it.
post #9 of 27
Schoenberg is a tough nut to crack for many people, which is too bad since his music really does have a lot to offer. It's not easy listening to be sure. Schoenberg wanted people to like his music.

You must hear Pelleas und Melisande and Gurrelieder. His experiments with Spechstimme certainly turns people off, and I can understand why. I've never taken to Survivor from Warsaw, although many people find it deeply disturbing and emotional.

If you want to hear what the man could do with an orchestra, get his orchestral transcription of the Brahms g minor quartet. There are quite a few recordings of it now available, but the Jarvi on Chandos will knock your socks off. Schoenberg was quite a master of instrumentation.

There's a lovely disk called Schoenberg in Hollywood that's well worth finding.
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Schoenberg is a tough nut to crack for many people, which is too bad since his music really does have a lot to offer. It's not easy listening to be sure. Schoenberg wanted people to like his music.
Thanks for reminding me ~ I did really try hard!

Kylie Minogue also wanted people to like her music btw

Maybe it's something to do with the Germanic spirit of Schoenberg's music. His spiritual predecessors I can handle ~ like Webern's ditty for string quartet (romantic vein). Equally, intense music which was never written 'to be liked', such as the music originating from Poland's Vintage 33 group of composers, has always enthralled me. Henryk Gorecki's String Quartets, composed with the second world war in his blood and the sound of bomb siren shelters are intensely provocative on an emotional level and move towards a depth of spiritual desolation which resonates with me. Having said as much, Sprechstimme (or Spechstimme as it is usually bandied around these days).......takes place in a classical medium that moves beyond the intimacy of the intense dialogue within chamber music which I still can't get. Vocal performance art and opera are different genres of classical music, and it's not realistic for an audience to love all genres of music; some composers are reknown more for specific works in one medium (such as Scriabin in his piano sonatas) and others in symphonic work (like Myaskovsky). Equally, many composer's 'fame' for their works, rests on their interpreters, and when there are none, such as Szymanowski's string quartets until the early 1980's, the work remains buried and obscured in history, until a champion like the Varsovia or Carmina Quartet, come to raise it back into the public light.

Is the same true for Schoenberg? Later Russian Jewish composers, such as Moshei Vainberg, capture an emotional accessibility in his string quartet cycle which I find tangible, perhaps even if not as accomplished as Schoenberg's theoretical prowess. Schoenberg's work has been interpreted and re-interpreted at length; he has the advantage of never being eclipsed into anonymity and his work probably is best known to us because of its theoretical underpinnings.

But what of the listener? Well Gorecki's chamber music work isn't easy listening, and in fact, most (romantic) classical buffs would say his string quartets are like torture, whereas his monotonal vocal work like the 3rd Symph. are very easy going. But Schoenberg?

I just can't get him and I've tried, and keep wondering what it is people see in music like his. Maybe I'll never get it, and his music will remain forever closed off to my entry in it. Emotionally, I find it deadening. Whereas Gorecki's work will take man to the boundaries of desolation, explore that desolation in depth and intensity, he does not abandon a listener there. Schoenberg......doesn't seem to care for the listener. Maybe his theoretical approach, enables this? That so many people feel that way about his music, says something about his music: maybe we don't want theoretical and technically accomplished music. Maybe music, is fundamentally, a visceral experience, bound to the aural senses through the power of emotional intensity; not theoretical detachment.
post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the recommendations. Any recommended recordings of "Pelleas und Melisande"

Scott
post #12 of 27
There are quite a few good recordings of the Pelleas and Mellisande around.... Karajan, Zinman with Baltimore... many others.

But personally I'd start with Gurrelieder if that's new to you. It's romantic, sumptuous and gorgeous. For sheer beaty of sound it's hard to go past the first 15 minutes of that piece. Rattle's recording with Berlin is fantastic. 2nd string quartet is also worth a listen if you like verklaerte nacht and the 5 orchestral pieces can be quite beautiful.

Head_case - I think the problem with Schoenberg's works is the sheer complexity of some of his mature works. Gorecki's chamber music is not really complex, it's just really really dark and grungy! (and I like it!)
post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
I grabbed the Karajan from the Itunes Music store, no very audiophile, but for on the go listening, which is mostly what I do 256k AAC is plenty good enough. Will look around for the Gurrelieder.
post #14 of 27
I quite enjoy this collection of (mainly) choral works, performed by Acentus and Ensemble intercontemporain



The most notable items on this disc are two versions of Schoenberg's early choral work Friede auf Erden, which just predated Gurrelieder, and two choral pieces from Op. 50, the last works he ever committed. Friede auf Erden is a very voluptuous and emotional score, while the intertwining processes and use of heightened speech in Op. 50 will take some getting used to. Also includes an excellent rendition of his Chamber Symphony No. 2.
post #15 of 27
Thats a good album, and Friede auf Erden is very lovely.
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