01/09/2011

Pelleas and Melisande in three versions

Arnold Schönberg’s Pelleas and Melisande (1902) is poised between Verklärte Nacht and Gurre Lieder on the one hand, and between his String Quartet No. 1 and the Chamber Symphony on the other. The composer achieved a kind of turnaround during that time, from romantic harmony to a fourth-chord system, from the symphonic poem rooted in Romanticism to the symphony, and from a huge orchestra to chamber music instrumentation.

In Pelleas Schönberg still used an orchestra so enormous (e.g. 8 horns, 4 trumpets, 5 trombones) that further expansion for the future became impossible. Thus it was only a small step forward along his path when he scored the individually shaped motivic voices in his Chamber Symphony for 15 solo instruments instead of using large-scale doublings, etc.

Apart from Schönberg’s original orchestration, Universal Edition also publishes a somewhat reduced version by Erwin Stein. We have also recently published a version for chamber orchestra by Cliff Colnot (2008), which will receive its world[nbsp]première on 8 Sept by the Pori Sinfonietta under Jukka Iisakkila in Finland.

4 4 5 4 –[nbsp] 8 4 5 1 –[nbsp] timp(2), perc(3), hp(2 od. 4), str(16 16 12 12 8)
(original instrumentation)
3 3 3 3 –[nbsp] 4 3 3 1 –[nbsp] timp(2), perc(3), hp(2 od. 4), str
(Erwin Stein)
2 2 3 2 –[nbsp] 3 2 2 1 –[nbsp] perc(2), hp, str
(Cliff Colnot)

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