Bruno Maderna, Vol. XX  -  Schonberg    (St Laurent Studio YSL T-475)
Item# C1548
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Bruno Maderna, Vol. XX  -  Schonberg    (St Laurent Studio YSL T-475)
C1548. BRUNO MADERNA Cond. Bayerischen Rundfunks S.O., Munich: Kammersymphonie #1 in E, Op.9, recorded 2 Dec., 1960; BRUNO MADERNA Cond. Sarrländischer Rundfunks S.O., Sarrbrucken: Kammersymphonie #2, Op.39, recorded 20 June, 1970; BRUNO MADERNA Cond. Südfunk S.O., Köln: Variations for Orchestra, Op.31, recorded 8 Oct., 1961 (all Schönberg). [In our opinion this is the most brilliant and fascinating of all the Maderna offerings we have from Yves St Laurent!] (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-475. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.


“The Chamber Symphony #1 in E major, Op. 9 (also known by its title in German Kammersymphonie, für 15 soloinstrumente, or simply as Kammersymphonie) is a composition by Austrian composer Arnold Schönberg. It was finished in 1906 and premiered on February 8, 1907 in Vienna by the Rosé Quartet together with a wind ensemble from the Vienna Philharmonic, under the composer's baton. Schönberg again conducted the piece, as part of the famed Skandalkonzert in 1913, in which the heterodox tonalities of Schönberg's Symphony and, more so, of his student Alban Berg's works incited the attendees to riot in protest and prematurely end the concert. The piece is a well-known example of the use of quartal harmony. The Chamber Symphony is a single-movement work which lasts approximately 20 minutes. Even though it is listed as one movement, the form can be considered as subdivided into as many as five continuous movements.

Chamber Symphony #2, Op. 38, by Arnold Schönberg was begun in 1906 and completed in 1939. The work is scored for 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes (2nd doubling cor anglais), 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets and strings and is divided into two movements, the first (in E flat minor) marked Adagio and the second (in G major) marked Con Fuoco-Lento. The belated completion of the work was prompted by a request from the conductor Fritz Stiedry who asked Schönberg for an orchestral piece for his New Friends of Music Orchestra in New York. The work was first performed there on December 14, 1940 under Stiedry's direction.

When Schönberg began the work in 1906, he was on the verge of a major stylistic change in his music. His Chamber Symphony #1, for fifteen players, adopts a concise form in which the four movements of a traditional symphony are condensed into a single larger one, and establishes the soloistic orchestral writing which is sporadically found in works such as GURRE-LIEDER and PELLEAS UND MELISANDE. After completing this work, Schönberg thought he had reached his mature style, but he soon began to explore new avenues of expression. The Second Chamber Symphony was begun shortly after the first was completed, but despite several efforts (in 1911 and again in 1916), Schönberg was unable to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. When he returned to the work 33 years later, it was likely because he felt that his earlier style retained unexplored possibilities. In a letter to Stiedry, Schönberg addressed the problem of returning to his past: ‘For a month I have been working on the Second Chamber Symphony. I spend most of the time trying to find out ‘What was the author getting at here? Indeed, my style has greatly deepened meanwhile, and I find it hard to reconcile what I then rightly wrote, trusting my sense of form and not thinking too much, with my current extensive demands in respect of ‘visible’ logic. Today that is one of the major difficulties, for it also affects the material’.

The completion of the work signifies Schönberg’s return to tonal music late in his life. In 1939, he added 20 bars to the original first movement, wrote the latter half of the second movement, and revised and re-orchestrated the earlier portions of the work. He considered adding a third movement, an Adagio, and sketched out 127 bars of it, but then decided that the musical and ‘psychic’ problems in the work had already been presented thoroughly in the first two movements. He also expanded the ensemble to that of a classical-sized orchestra, with the available forces of Stiedry's orchestra in mind. Compared to the 1906 version of the Second Chamber Symphony, the 1939 version demonstrates greater variety between the string, woodwind and brass sections of the orchestra, using distinct instrumental groupings in a style similar to that of Anton Bruckner. It avoids the doubling of instrumental lines in favor of a differentiation of individual parts, showing that Schönberg’s later style placed greater emphasis on clarity of textures than was the case in his earlier orchestral scores. In almost every instance in the 1906 draft, first violins are paired with flute, oboe I, and clarinet I, second violins are paired with second clarinet, and lower strings are paired with octave doublings.

Stylistically, the Second Chamber Symphony generally progresses harmonically by stepwise motion, juxtaposing the First Chamber Symphony’s forward movement through non-traditional suspensions and appoggiaturas. Schönberg combined this tonal style with 4th chords and similar combinations to produce a grave and severe effect. While the First Chamber Symphony attempts to expand the limits of tonality, the second does not constantly attempt to undermine tonal references.

There is debate over what prompted Schönberg to re-admit tonality in pieces such as the Second Chamber Symphony, but his own words are probably the most telling. In his 1948 essay ‘On revient toujours’, Schönberg wrote: ‘I was not destined to continue in the manner of TRANSFIGURED NIGHT or GURRE-LIEDER or even PELLEAS AND MELISANDE. The Supreme Commander had ordered me on a harder road. But a longing to return to the older style was always vigorous in me, and from time to time I had to yield to that urge’.

Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31 (1926–28) is an orchestral set of variations on a theme, composed by Arnold Schönberg and is his first twelve-tone composition for a large ensemble. Premiered in December 1928 by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler, it was greeted by a tumultuous scandal.

The theme of the piece is stated in measures 34–57. The orchestration includes a flexatone. The piece features the BACH motif.

Schönberg opened a lecture on the composition with the following tyranny of the majority defense of less common aesthetics: ‘Far be it from me to question the rights of the majority. But one thing is certain: somewhere there is a limit to the power of the majority; it occurs, in fact, wherever the essential step is one that cannot be taken by all and sundry’."

- Wikipedia

“Maderna was a musician who couldn't write or conduct a note without wanting to communicate something essential, and essentially human. He is arguably the most underrated figure of the avant-garde; Maderna's music breathes an expressive freedom that makes it, I think, immediately compelling. His commitment to the modernist cause is unassailable. As well as Maderna's own music, there are a handful of recordings you need to hear. There's a white-hot Mahler 9th with the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1971 - one of the most incandescent interpretations I've ever heard, and a thrilling LE MARTEAU SAN MAÎTRE on YouTube; on CD and download, you can find Maderna's Schönberg, Webern, Malipiero, Stravinsky, and even Mozart as well. The most eloquent revelation of how much Maderna meant to the whole generation of post-war composers is the music they wrote in his memory: Boulez's RITUEL IN MEMORIAM BRUNO MADERNA and Berio's CALMO. But the best tribute to Bruno you can give him is to listen to his own music. Enjoy.”

- Tom Service, THE GUARDIAN, 13 Nov., 2013

“Italian composer and conductor Bruno Maderna was one of the preeminent figures in contemporary European music in the mid-twentieth century. By the age of 20 Bruno Maderna had already earned his degree in composition from the Conservatory of Rome and returned to Venice to continue under composer Gian Francesco Malipiero.

In 1948 Maderna took a conducting class with legendary maestro Hermann Scherchen and probably through him got to know Wolfgang Steinecke, the founder of the Darmstadt Festival. Maderna had already met composer Luigi Nono at Ricordi, and would meet Luciano Berio in Milan after leaving the Venice Conservatory in 1952. Steinecke engaged Maderna as a conductor at the Darmstadt Festival, a post that made Maderna a celebrity in postwar European avant-garde and one that he would hold until the end of his days.

As the 1950s gave way to the 1960s, Bruno Maderna's work as a composer began to take a back seat to his activity as a conductor. He was named principal guest conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, appeared frequently with the Juilliard Ensemble, and was musical director for two years at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood. He also spent a great deal of time in the recording studio and produced many fine albums of contemporary music, although in concert Maderna was equally well known for conducting the symphonies of Mahler and other well-worn repertoire of the Viennese classics. Perhaps this had some effect on Maderna's personality as a composer, as well, for by the end of his life he'd turned his back on the serial aesthetic espoused by the Darmstadt Festival and his colleague Pierre Boulez.

When the end came for Maderna at age 53, it did so swiftly - he was diagnosed with lung cancer during the rehearsals for his SATYRICON, which premiered in March 1973, and was dead by that November. His celebrity in America was so short-lived that by 2004 Maderna's name was largely forgotten there, but not so in Europe, where he is yet regarded as one of the giants of postwar modernism.”

- Uncle Dave Lewis,