Sunday, March 21, 2010
Chameleon continues the 2009-2010 season this Saturday, March 27 at 8PM at the Goethe-Institut, 170 Beacon Street in Boston. The program entitled “of melody yet unknown” includes works by Beethoven, Brahms, Schoenberg, Webern, and Kirchner.
About the program:
Very rarely, an artist emerges who transforms an art form forever. On this program we have two such composers, born roughly a century apart, both central to the grand musical tradition of the city of Vienna, whose bold conceptions influenced everybody that followed – even if in opposition. Ludwig van Beethoven appropriated the classical forms of Haydn and Mozart’s generation for the new age of Romanticism, the time of the French Revolution. He was an artist no longer at the service of aristocratic patrons, daringly, even relentlessly, showing the world how the expression of the intensely personal can become the expression of the universal. A revolutionary thinker and iconoclast for sure, Arnold Schoenberg nevertheless considered himself a successor in the tradition of Beethoven and Brahms. He made the case in his famous 1947 essay “Brahms the Progressive” that looking to Brahms, Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart as progressive composers who wrote music for “adults…[who] think in complexes” would lead to a greater understanding of his own music. Strictly regular phrase lengths and repetitions of thematic material with only insignificant surface variation, such as one finds in any form of “popular” music, he characterizes as “senseless prolixity” essentially on the intellectual level of nursery rhyme. Brahms in particular, with his ability to spin large-scale forms and generate essentially every bit of musical material, from melody to transitional passages, from very simple melodic and harmonic cells, was clearly an inspiration for Schoenberg’s serial techniques. Schoenberg’s most rigorous student, Anton Webern, took the aesthetic of the concise to the extreme, creating works of transparent beauty in which every note, every gesture, is packed with import. Leon Kirchner, who passed away just this past fall after a long and distinguished career, was one of the last great composers with a direct link to Schoenberg, leaving a body of work that was every bit as meticulous as his teacher in the clarity of its internal logic and form.