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Schoenberg: Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto / Berg: Violin

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Text of Schoenberg: Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto / Berg: Violin

Schoenberg: Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto / Berg: Violin ConcertoSchoenberg Piano Concerto Violin Concerto Alfred. Brende[ • Zvi Zeldin Henryk Szeryng
_Berg Violin Concerto
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ALBAN BERG (1885-1935)
ffl-tn Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1935) [24 41] Konzert fur Violine und Orchester Concerto pour violon et orchestre
HENRYK SZERYNG, violin
ARNOLD SCHOENBERG (1874-1951)
m-® Concerto for Piano and Orchestra [20 04] op. 42 (1942) Konzert fur Klavier und Orchester Concerto pour piano et orchestre
ALFRED BRENDEL, piano
m-® Concerto for Violin and Orchestra [32 32] op. 36(1934-36) ZVI ZEITLIN, violin
Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks RAFAEL KUBELIK
[77’29]
STEREO • 431 740-2 M
DIGITALLY REMASTERED
Manufactured and Marketed by PolyGram Classics & Jazz, a Division of PolyGram Records, Inc., New York, New York
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ALBAN BERG (1885-1935)
GHU Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1935) [24 41 ] Konzert fur Violine und Orchester Concerto pour violon et orchestre
HENRYK SZERYNG, violin
ARNOLD SCHOENBERG (1874-1951)
m-m Concerto for Piano and Orchestra [20 04]
op. 42(1942) Konzert fur Klavier und Orchester Concerto pour piano et orchestre
ALFRED BRENDEL, piano
op. 36(1934-36)
ALBAN BERG (1885-1935)
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1935) Konzert fur Violine und Orchester Concerto pour violon et orchestre
0 1. Andante - Allegretto [10’33] 0 2. Allegro, ma sempre rubato, frei [14’04]
wie eine Kadenz - Adagio
HENRYK SZERYNG, violin
ARNOLD SCHOENBERG (1874-1951)
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra op. 42 (1942) Konzert fur Klavier und Orchester Concerto pour piano et orchestre
0 Andante - [4’45] 0 Molto allegro (bar/Takt/ [2’48]
mesure 176) - 0 Adagio (b. / T. / m. 264) - [6’07] 0 Giocoso (Moderato) (b. / T. / m. 329) [6’24]
ALFRED BRENDEL, piano
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra op. 36(1934-36)
0 1. Poco allegro [12’08] GO 2. Andante grazioso [8’12] 0 3. Allegro [12’02]
ZVI ZEITLIN, violin
RAFAEL KUBELIK
CONCERTOS BY BERG AND SCHOENBERG
Arnold Schoenberg and his distinguished pupil, Alban Berg, both believed that the use of the
twelve-note method need not deprive their com¬ positions of significant and perceptible links with the forms and textures of earlier periods. As far as the concerto was concerned, they regarded those links as extending beyond the obvious textural contrast between soloist and orchestra into the treatment - most evident in the concertos of Beet¬ hoven and Brahms - of the genre as a branch of symphonic composition. All three of the concertos on this disc affirm allegiance to that tradition, al¬ though they are in no sense pale shadows of classical or romantic concerto designs. What mat¬ ters in each case is that the element of virtuoso display is balanced by the symphonic intensity of
thematic development. In a letter to Schoenberg of 28 August 1935, Berg wrote: “I can report that as of two weeks ago the vio¬ lin concerto is completely finished. Each part with two movements: la) Andante (Praludium), b) Alle¬ gretto (Scherzo); lla) Allegro (cadenza), b) Adagio (chorale setting). I chose a very advantageous row for the entire piece (since D major and similar ‘violin concerto’ keys were of course out of the question).” Berg then quoted the row in manuscript, noting that the last four pitches “corresponded with the cho¬ rale of Bach’s ‘Es ist genug’[lt is enough]”. He then mentioned the illness which was to lead to his own death a few months later on Christmas Eve.
As Berg’s last completed work the Violin Concerto J has long been regarded as a double requiem: for « Berg himself, and for its dedicatee, Manon Gropius || - daughter of the architect Walter Gropius and | Alma Mahler Gropius - who died aged 18 in April 1935. Quite recently it has emerged that Berg saw the work primarily as a lament for lost youth, with the Carinthian folksong quoted in the second and fourth movements alluding to Marie Scheuchl, with whom he had had an affair as a young man. In the light of this, the innate ambivalence of the music as it explores various contrasts, between old and new styles, simple and sophisticated materials, reli¬ gious and erotic moods, is even more strongly en¬
hanced. As far as tempos and moods are concerned, Part I of the concerto seems to occupy the middle- ground between the extremes of Part II; and the work’s few lighter moments occur here, especially in the dance-like Allegretto. In Part II the accompa¬ nied cadenza of the Allegro enshrines the direct conflict between a well-nigh hysterical despair and I the attempt to assert self-control through the intel- I lectual exercise of canon. Then, in the Adagio, the i possibility of peaceful resolution emerges. The J Bach chorale harmonization, whose original words contain a plea for release from earthly suffering, is heard complete in four clarinets, with stifled, disso¬ nant interjections from the soloist, and is then ela¬ borated in a manner that intensifies its expressive¬
ness without ensuring a serene release. The en¬ ding of the concerto is inevitably ambiguous: the pain is too immediate, and too personal, for any¬ thing more positive or conclusive. Schoenberg began work on his Violin Concerto well before Berg, in 1934; but there were interrup¬ tions, and it was not completed until November 1936. Its three separate movements are full of the kind of thematic cross-references which twelve- note technique facilitates: among the most obvi¬ ous to the ear are the similarities between the nar¬ row intervals of the melodies with which the violin begins both first movement and finale. All three movements can be divided into sections equiv¬ alent to “exposition”, “development” and “recapi¬ tulation”: but as always with Schoenberg, develop¬ ment is constant, and recapitulation far from literal. The first movement, despite a livelier middle sec¬ tion, is rather sombre in mood. The Andante gra- zioso is more delicate, more fanciful, yet this too contains a powerful climax before fading away in a transparently scored cadence. The finale offers the most determinedly energetic, extrovert music in the concerto, but like the earlier movements it has a richly polyphonic texture in which a wealth of
detail is shaped by a sure hand. Schoenberg’s Violin Concerto is even more chal¬ lenging to the soloist than Berg’s. The Piano Con¬ certo of 1942 is both a more concentrated and a more easy-going work, and is also closer to the Berg in spirit, to the extent that a programmatic element is involved. Schoenberg described the four linked movements in a wry quatrain:
Life was so easy: But suddenly hatred broke out: A serious situation was created:
But life goes on.
The reference is to the Second World War. And it is certainly the case that the “ease” of the opening movement gives way, first to the “hatred” of the brittle Molto allegro, then to the more intense se¬ riousness of the Adagio, before a more amiable mood, and with it the “ease” of the opening theme, are recalled. The Piano Concerto is by no means devoid of the drama and display which distinguish the Violin Concerto, especially in the second and fourth movements. And while the style of the piano writing creates even more 19th-century associa¬ tions than the nature of Schoenberg’s harmony, with its occasional hints of traditional consonance, the work is far from any kind of neo-classical pas¬
tiche. The only published essay of Schoenberg’s to refer to his two concertos has the title “Heart and Brain in Music”. Schoenberg quotes the opening melody of the Piano Concerto and the main second move¬ ment theme of the Violin Concerto to counter the claim that these “compositions with tweve tones” were by definition “produced exclusively by the brain without the slightest participation of some¬ thing like the human heart”. Schoenberg’s conclu¬ sion was that “everything of supreme value in art must show heart as well as brain”. Such a state¬ ment of belief, about the need for compositional technique to evolve in order the more effectively to serve the needs of a truly vital and passionate expression, was one which Berg would have who¬ leheartedly endorsed: and his Violin Concerto re¬ veals how well he, no less than his great teacher, was able to translate aesthetic conviction into
compositional practice.
Arnold Whittall
DIGITALLY REMASTERED«
means that what you hear is the quality of the original recording, because it has been newly mastered with the use of digi¬ tal technology and the master tape is now a digital tape. Every previous mastering using analogue technology produced only a copy of the original recording, and every copy contained more background noise and distortion than the original.
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Recordings: Munchen, Herkulessaal, 5/1968 (Berg), 9/1971 (Schoenberg op. 36), 12/1971 (Schoenberg op. 42) Executive Producer: Otto Gerdes (Berg), Dr. Rudolf Werner (Schoenberg) Recording Producer: Hans Weber Balance Engineer: Heinz Wildhagen
Publishers: Universal Edition, Wien (Berg), G. Schirmer, New York (Schoenberg) ©1971 (Berg), 1972 (Schoenberg) Polydor International GmbH, Hamburg © 1991 Dr. Arnold Whittall Cover Design: Holger Matthies, Hamburg Art Direction: Hartmut Pfeiffer
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O F T
GmbH, Hamburg
ALBAN BERG Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Violinkonzert - Concerto pour violon
ARNOLD SCHOENBERG Concerto for Piano and Orchestra op. 42 Klavierkonzert - Concerto pour piano
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra op. 36 Henryk Szeryng (1) Alfred Brendel (2) • Zvi Zeitlin (3) y Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen
Rundf unks Rafael Kubelik