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Auf Abruf: Concert Club: Schoenberg before Serialism

The Bachtrack Concert Club is a series of videos personally curated by our editors, who hand-picked pieces from the fantastic performances in our on-demand archive.

In this selection, Danny Riley chooses prime cuts from Schoenberg's early career. See below for the programme, videos and related articles.

Until relatively recently, the only Schoenberg that I knew of was the dry - though fascinating - theoretician of the twelve-tone serial technique. Consequently I was greatly surprised to learn that the gloriously swelling, lush and decidedly tonal orchestral prelude to the secular cantata Gurrelieder was, in fact, by that very same Austrian composer. I was amazed that a composer could make such an artistic shift in such a short space of time, something I’d like to explore in this Concert Club event.

This is why I have chosen the prelude and first two songs of Gurrelieder, even though it was written after Verklarte Nacht, as the opening piece. In selecting these pieces, I am attempting to give an impression of the trajectory of Schoenberg’s early career, from a late Romantic in the Wagnerian mould to an Expressionist who sought to explore the hidden depths of the psyche. Pierrot Lunaire, the unsettling avant garde cabaret, relates the inner monologue of a clownish, tragicomic figure, mixing sex, violence and blasphemy.

- Danny Riley

Aufgenommen am Grieg Hall (Grieghallen), Bergen, Norwegen
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