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Anton Webern


for 9 instruments

Webern dedicated this piece to Arnold Schönberg for his 60th birthday in 1934. He had been working on it from 1931 to 1934; it is an especially consistent example of his late style, in which it was a question of realising “comprehensibility as the paramount principle when presenting a musical idea.” The structure of the row is already utile. It is comprised of four three-note groups (minor second + major third); the second is the retrograde inversion, the third is the retrograde and the fourth is the inversion of the first. Thus, the motivic work here is even more consistently retro-set in the row than in the Symphony Op. 21. At the outset of the first movement, the three-note groups sound in the winds, differentiated in articulation and pitch duration; these successive or simultaneous groups of three predominate the entire movement (again, a sonata-movement form). The slow movement – rhythmically stereotypic in quarter notes throughout – assigns two pitches each of the three-note groups to the piano accompaniment, each formed only of the dyad of major third and major seventh. The remaining row tones figure as “melody.” The three-note groups again become manifest in the accelerated final movement. Altogether, then, the piece also bears traits of a broad cycle of variations; the work turns the “material,” the crude pitch relationships, into sound. The powerful expressiveness which still pulses through the piece is no longer that of the subject, that of the composer. “The composer no longer ‘bends’ the material to express himself; he “bows” to it to serve its presentation” (R. Schulz). Manfred Angerer

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Arvo Pärt

Wallfahrtslied / Pilgrims' Song

for tenor or baritone and string quartet

When my friend Grigori Kromanov, the Estonian film and stage director, died in July 1984, it was like a bolt from the blue. Suddenly an invisible rift had opened up between us – with me still on the side of time and him already in the sphere of timelessness. My Pilgrims’ Song is an attempt to overcome this insurmountable gap through a gentle touch, a greeting. I wanted the two worlds, Here and There, to merge in the music, as contrasting layers – that was the origin of the work. On the one side, there is the dynamism and mobility of the orchestra – and on the other, the static quality of the men’s voices, reduced to a single pitch, with the serenity of a mountain. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills… Arvo Pärt

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