Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Schoenberg: A New Look

My views on music are never carved in stone, but always subject to revision and, I hope, improvement. In my early years of exposure to and study of classical music I was overwhelmed by almost everything, but voraciously consumed everything I could hear and read about contemporary music in particular. Why? It was just very exciting: all these composers striking out in entirely new directions and creating entirely new sounds. Mind you, this was in the very early 70s so I hadn't quite shaken off the influence of the 60s!

Much later I underwent a kind of apostasy with regards to the avant-garde where I started to see the more extreme examples as being really not worth our time as performers or listeners. After the Second World War a kind of excess became fashionable that took a few decades to subside.

But very recently I have been listening to the Hilary Hahn recording of the Schoenberg Violin Concerto and it is making quite an impression. Schoenberg is a very complex figure as I have discussed in several previous posts, but it is impossible to deny that the Violin Concerto, especially played as superbly as Hahn does, is a great piece of music. I have already done a post on it here. But with further listening, it just gets better and better.

I must confess that while I have long been fond of the early, free atonal music by Schoenberg, like the piano pieces op 11 and 19, and Pierrot Lunaire, the later serial pieces like the Violin Concerto and the Piano Concerto I have not had a lot of time for. Until now, that is!

When I get to Schoenberg in my Concerto Guide, you may be sure that I will take a close look at either the Violin Concerto, or the late Piano Concerto.

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