We are very happy to be headed back under the Brooklyn Bridge for a real meat-and-potatoes show at Bargemusic. Having completed our survey of the complete string quartets of Arnold Schoenberg this season, we arrive with two of the choicest selections from those epic programs.
“What interested me in Schoenberg, especially in the earlier works, in Erwartung and others was the idea [that] you could make music that had the rhythm of prose.”
That Schoenberg is still considered “contemporary music” in many classical music circles is a testament to the enormity of his break with tradition. Despite the fact that over 80 years separate us from the composer’s final string quartet, the scope of his influence is felt in no small measure to this day. More importantly, this synthesis of classical gestures with emancipated harmonies continues to sound fresh even to this day. A provocative and bracing piece, the fourth quartet continues to astound and delight listeners, as well as those playing it.
In terms of influences, one can't mention this notorious breaker of tonality without name-checking perhaps his most cherished compositional hero, Johannes Brahms. Back when Brahms was too progressive for the traditionalists, and too traditional for the progressives, Schoenberg held him up as the pinnacle of harmony, more revolutionary than even Wagner. Brahms's stormy–and widely adored–first string quartet closes our time out on the water in Brooklyn.
Arnold Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 4, Op. 37
Johannes Brahms: String Quartet No. 1 in C-minor Op. 51 No. 1