Off Topic Subject 2013: The RIAS Second Viennese School Project Berlin 1949-1965

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 | 9:05:00 pm

The first of this years twice yearly "Off Topic" articles comes to us via the so called Second Viennese School and this remarkable four disc set released at the end of last year. The entire 4 discs can be found on Spotify below. Should you not have access to this, but are still unsure whether this "is for you" and thus the price of the 4 cd boxset, the entire 4 albums can be downloaded as MP3s from Amazon for only £5.99! Also, included below is a playlist from Ulysstenetone, which may make as good an introduction as any to a few full works of the"SVS" - plus a little more (Mahler and Strauss included) . Sit back for a few hours and be delightfully "decadent" and "degenerate". Glass of wine (or beer), chaise lounge and cigarette holder, alas, not included.

Having been banned as “degenerate” during the Third Reich, by the end of World War II the experimental work of what is now called the Second Viennese School was, at best, on the fringes of German public perception. The three composers who made up the school as such were dead (Berg in 1935 and Webern in 1945) or self-exiled to the U.S. (Schoenberg). There were few performances of their work in postwar Europe and even fewer commercial recordings. So Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt, the editor of new music at the RIAS in occupied West Berlin, and Schoenberg’s conductor-colleague Josef Rufer, sought out musicians—many from the composers’ circle of students and friends—to record and broadcast some of the most important works of these three pivotal modernists. This was more than an act of national contrition for Stuckenschmidt and Rufer. They intended to revive the performing traditions that had been developing in Berlin in the 1920s and ’30s, and cultivate a new generation of performers. They hoped, as well, to create more interest in the listening public through greater familiarity.


Audite’s four-disc The RIAS Second Viennese School Project presents a selection of these RIAS performances recorded between 1949 and 1965. The pieces, written between 1906 and 1950, provide an overview of the arc of the school’s development from the quartal harmonies of Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1, to the stricter 12-tone serial techniques of works like the Two Piano Pieces, op. 33a & b, to the still dodecaphonic but increasingly personal works like his Piano Concerto and String Trio. While these works are often collectively written off as austere and unapproachable, the reality revealed here is rather different. Though the uninitiated will still find some of the going rough—there are works by these composers that are still cutting-edge these many decades later—this compilation persuasively argues that wholesale dismissal of the oeuvre of these composers is intellectual laziness. Most of the music here is not all that taxing to ears attuned to music of the last century.




(Taken from the Fanfare Review: Ronald E. Grames)


The RIAS Second Viennese School Project Schoenberg / Berg / Webern
Release Date: 11/13/2012
Label: Audite Catalog #: 21412 Spars Code: DDD
Composer: Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Anton von Webern, Johann Strauss Jr.
Performer: Hans Bastiaan, Klaus Billing, Irmen Burmester, Hans-Peter Schmitz, ...
Conductor: Josef Rufer, Ferenc Fricsay, Winfried Zillig, Günther Arndt, ...
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra, Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, ...
Number of Discs: 4

Works on This Recording

1. Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21 by Arnold Schoenberg

Performer: Hans Bastiaan (Violin), Klaus Billing (Piano), Irmen Burmester (Voice),
Hans-Peter Schmitz (Flute), Werner Haupt (Cello)
Conductor: Josef Rufer
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1912; Vienna, Austria

2. Chamber Symphony no 1 in E major, Op. 9 by Arnold Schoenberg

Conductor: Ferenc Fricsay
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1906; Vienna, Austria

3. Concerto for Piano, Op. 42 by Arnold Schoenberg

Performer: Peter Stadlen (Piano)
Conductor: Winfried Zillig
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1942; USA

4. Fantasy for Violin and Piano, Op. 47 by Arnold Schoenberg

Performer: Tibor Varga (Violin), Ernst Krenek (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1949; USA

5. Book of the Hanging Gardens, Op. 15 by Arnold Schoenberg

Performer: Suzanne Danco (Soprano), Hermann Reutter (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1908-1909; Vienna, Austria

6. De profundis, Op. 50b by Arnold Schoenberg

Conductor: Günther Arndt
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1950; USA

7. Pieces (3) for Piano, Op. 11 by Arnold Schoenberg

Performer: Eduard Steuermann (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1909; Vienna, Austria

8. Little Pieces (6) for Piano, Op. 19 by Arnold Schoenberg

Performer: Eduard Steuermann (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1911; Vienna, Austria

9. Pieces (5) for Piano, Op. 23 by Arnold Schoenberg

Performer: Eduard Steuermann (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1920-1923; Vienna, Austria

10. Piece for Piano, Op. 33a by Arnold Schoenberg

Performer: Else C. Kraus (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1928-1929; Berlin, Germany

11. Piece for Piano, Op. 33b by Arnold Schoenberg

Performer: Else C. Kraus (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1931; Berlin, Germany

12. Trio for Violin, Viola and Cello, Op. 45 by Arnold Schoenberg

Performer: Ernst Doberitz (Viola), Erich Röhn (Violin), Arthur Troester (Cello)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1946; USA

13. Suite for String Orchestra in G major by Arnold Schoenberg

Conductor: Ferenc Fricsay
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1934; USA

14. Lyric Suite for String Quartet by Alban Berg

Orchestra/Ensemble: Végh String Quartet
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1926; Austria

15. Pieces (4) for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 5 by Alban Berg

Performer: Heinrich Geuser (Clarinet), Klaus Billing (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1913; Austria

16. Early Songs (7) by Alban Berg

Performer: Magda László (Soprano), Lothar Broddack (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1905-1908; Austria

17. Schliesse mir die Augen beide (I) by Alban Berg

Performer: Evelyn Lear (Soprano), Hans Hilsdorf (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1907; Austria

18. Schliesse mir die Augen beide (II) by Alban Berg

Performer: Evelyn Lear (Soprano), Hans Hilsdorf (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1925; Austria

19. Passacaglia for Orchestra, Op. 1 by Anton von Webern

Conductor: Arthur Rother
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1908; Vienna, Austria

20. Pieces (5) for Orchestra, Op. 10 by Anton von Webern

Conductor: Bruno Maderna
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1911-1913; Austria

21. Pieces (4) for Violin and Piano, Op. 7 by Anton von Webern

Performer: André Gertler (Violin), Diane Andersen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1910/1914; Preglhof

22. Der Zigeunerbaron: Schatz-Walzer, Op. 418 by Johann Strauss Jr.

Performer: Emil Hammermeister (Harmonium), Klaus Billing (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Bastiaan String Quartet
Period: Romantic
Written: 1885; Vienna, Austria
Notes: Arranger: Webern.

23. Das Spitzentuch der Königin: Rosen aus dem Süden Waltzes, Op. 388 by Johann Strauss Jr.

Performer: Emil Hammermeister (Harmonium), Klaus Billing (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Bastiaan String Quartet
Period: Romantic
Written: 1880; Vienna, Austria
Notes: Arranger: Schoenberg. 24. Fantasy for Violin and Piano, Op. 47 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer: Rudolf Kolisch (Violin), Alan Willman (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1949; USA