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Anton Webern: 5 Pieces

  • for orchestra
  • 1 1 2 0 - 1 1 1 0 - perc(4), hp, cel, harm, mand, guit, vln, vla, vc, cb
  • Duration: 6’
  • Instrumentation details:
    flute (+picc)
    oboe
    clarinet in Eb
    clarinet in Bb (+bass cl(Bb))
    horn in F
    trumpet in Bb
    trombone
    percussion(4 players): glockenspiel, xylophone, bells (some of them low), cow bells, triangle, cymbals, snare drum, bass drum
    harp
    celesta
    harmonium
    mandolin
    guitar
    violin
    viola
    violoncello
    double bass
  • Composer: Anton Webern
  • Table of contents:
    Fünf Stücke für Orchester

Work introduction

Like the Op. 9 Bagatelles, these orchestra pieces have a complicated origin. Two of them (nos. 1 and 4) were written in 1911, the other three in 1913, along with a larger number – some merely sketched, some completed, and some including a singing voice. Webern conducted the premiere in Zurich in 1926.

The instrumental forces of Op. 10 are actually a chamber orchestra: the winds and strings one-to-a-part and the small complement of instruments never used in full. The use of harmonium, mandolin, guitar, celesta, bells and cowbells were certainly suggested by Mahler (Symphonies 6 through 8), whom Webern passionately admired. As with the Bagatelles written at the same time, everything is reduced to its essentials; the fourth piece, only six bars long, is the shortest one Webern ever composed, and only the last one, 31 bars long, attains the dimensions of Opp. 5 and 6. However, everything here has become quieter, subcutaneous. Schönberg’s notion of Klangfarbenmelodie doubtless plays a certain part in the orchestration; for example, the thrice-repeated F at the end of the first piece is scored differently each time: first, the flute alone, then flute and muted trumpet, then trumpet alone and finally celesta. These pieces are surely among the most beautiful and disciplined of all Webern’s works.

Manfred Angerer

Audiosamples

The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

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