Monday, September 30, 2013

Zubin Mehta Conducts Arnold Schoenberg

   On turning of 19th century the idea of progress in music lead to complication of meanings and increasing difficulty. Like in science and technology value in music was observed as the effect of innovation and originality. Approaching final exhaustion of functional gravitation in modern music, in first half of 20th century composers were trying different scales and systems to find new space for their creativity.  In Arnold Schoenberg’s music earlier atonality became in 1920’s the whole new system basing on chromatic scale and the idea of series. It is commonly known as one of most intellectual ideas of 20th century music. But considering energy of Schoenberg’s music composed with twelve-tone technique, it looks to be relatively insignificant issue whether it was intellectual or not. As always in the history in the center of meaning of music is its emotional potential and possibilities of performing artists.
   Arnold Schoenberg’s idea of serial music was influential invention and made him one of most recognizable figures of 20th century culture. Such theoretical solution of the material organization was continued and developed by Schoenberg’s students Alban Berg, Hans Eisler, Anton Webern and by next generations of composers: Milton Babbit, Pierre Boulez, Luigi Dallapiccola, Hans Werner Henze, Ernst Krenek, Bruno Maderna, Luigi Nono, Henri Pousseur, Karlheinz Stockhausen, La Monte Young and many others. Schoenberg’s idea influenced philosophers and music writers, especially Theodor W. Adorno who set together Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky in his Philosophy of New Music. Also Thomas Mann, who in novel Doctor Faustus made dodecaphonic method the base of the hero creative efforts, was strongly encouraged by Adorno.

Arnold Schoenberg - Kammersinfonie and Variations (1969) 

   The concert repertoire comprises numerous works of Arnold Schoenberg. Great part are chamber compositions, operas and vocal music. In orchestral music most famous are Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) Op. 4, Chamber Symphony No. 1 Op. 9, Chamber Symphony No. 2 Op. 38, Five Orchestral Pieces Op. 16, Variations for Orchestra Op. 31, two concertos for piano and violin and some famous works like using ‘Sprechstimme’ (melodramatically-spoken-recitations) the cycle of 21 melodramas Pierrot Lunaire Op. 21 (1912) and cantata A Survivor from Warsaw Op. 46 for recitation, choir and orchestra. Chamber Symphony No. 1 Op. 9 is work of great significance for the new music. It was composed in E Major yet, but in perfect discipline for chamber orchestra, renewing symphonic form in modern context. It was clear breach in post romantic form of symphony in massive orchestration and augmented construction, giving instead great palette of new sound possibilities.
   22 years later, in September 1928 Schoenberg finished the first dodecaphonic orchestral composition, Variations for Orchestra Op. 31. This is perfect form for repeating series and changing its parameters. Polyphonic mastery and natural emotionalism are working together as in classical music. No wonder Schoenberg and his students, Berg and Webern were called the second Viennese school. These two remarkable works of great composer were recorded in 1969 by Zubin Mehta conducting Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and published by London Records (CS 6612). The rare, hard to find album was reedited and published with new cover in 1985 by London Enterprise (414 440-1). Both performances are worth to be remembered as model renditions of these works. The album gives full vision of Schoenberg’s works, intellectually and emotionally balanced interpretations, perfect sound and proportions make this recording great chance to discover Schoenberg’s music. It surely deserves four and half of star.

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