Arnold Schoenberg - Chamber Symphony No. 1 (1/2)





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Uploaded on Dec 12, 2010

Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 9 (1906)

Members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Zubin Mehta

When Schoenberg wrote his Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E major, he had high hopes that this piece would establish him as a composer in Vienna and define his personal style. In the end, it did neither. Schoenberg had been and would remain an outsider in Viennese musical politics, and the style he formulated in the chamber symphony was quickly outgrown and discarded. But the work itself remains a brilliant and often beautiful example of a unique style. Scored for ten winds and five strings and written in one continuous movement in five sections, the chamber symphony is extremely terse and condensed. In just over 20 minutes, the chamber symphony moves from a very brief introduction to an exposition, a Scherzo, a development, an Adagio, and a finale that sums up all that had gone before. The writing is extremely difficult with every player a virtuoso. The language is essentially tonal, but with angular, quartal themes and lush, Wagnerian harmonies. The colors are primary, but with plangent and pungent new sonorities created by unusual doublings. The rhythm is remorseless, always moving the music forward even at moments of seeming stasis. Indeed, the overwhelming impression of the work is one of relentless busyness, of a man in a hurry with a lot to say, little time to say it, and less inclination to explain anything. The style of the chamber symphony is direct to the point of bluntness and energetic past the point of frantic. It is easy to understand why Schoenberg abandoned it: the style was difficult to sustain and impossible to duplicate. [Allmusic.com]

Art by Pablo Picasso

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