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Webern Variationen op. 27

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by kjarschka, Nov 3, 2007.

  1. kjarschka

    kjarschka New Member Piano Society Artist

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  2. John Robson

    John Robson New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Webern

    These posts won't play like the others do. When I download, they go to MusicMatch, which I don't like or normally use. When I click on the MusicMatch icon, I get my own playlist. I've tried all of the Webern posts. Are these uploaded as mp3's?
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Re: Webern

    As you can see these are wma files, not mp3. So they'll need to be converted before we could put them up. However, they play fine for me, in Windows Media Player. I guess your computer somehow has the .wma extension associated with MusicMatch (whatever that is).

    Try downloading them to your PC first (using righ mouse button - save target) and once on the PC, you do righ mouse button -> Open With. Then choose Windows Media PLayer, and tick the box 'Always use this program to open this type of file'. That should fix it.
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Ah yes... what about Webern :?

    While it is easy to like Berg's music, and it is even possible to appreciate some of Schoenberg's mature work, I find it impossible to find anything to like in Webern's totally abstract and pointillistic music. He may be an 'important' composer but I am not sure many people actually like his music. If dodecaphonic music is indeed a dead-end, as some people claim, then this is at the farthest corner of it. Does it have to be played ? Probably, if only to show that you have a mind the equal of your fingers.

    I do not know this piece from the inside, but it sounds like you have the full measure of it. Great to have a repertoire ranging from Bach to Webern ! And pretty unique to now have Berg as well as Webern on the site. Now only if somebody will tackle some Schoenberg we will be pretty up-to-date :wink:
     
  5. nathanscoleman

    nathanscoleman New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I've never heard this, but sounds like it's very well performed. And judging by your other posts, I'd say that's a safe bet.

    So, my thoughts on the music now: we all study and read about how important 12 tone music is right? But is there anything here beyond intellectual stimulation? Isn't music supposed to be about mind AND heart? I can understand the theory of the music, and find interesting the study of score maybe. But listening?? did Webern feel that listening to his music would ever be enjoyable? Where is the appeal to emotion? Dissonance is one thing, this is quite another. Maybe Schoenberg is more approachable??

    *getting off of my soapbox*
     
  6. robert

    robert Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Poor old Webern who died just after the second world war, mistakenly shot by an American solider when he was taking a smoke on his porch at his home. Neglected, forced to work as a proof reader against his will, split up from his master Schoenberg.

    His works are at first listen difficult to understand and need knowledge about the 12 tone scale which was invented by Schoenberg (there is someone else claiming to have invented it too but in general, Schoenberg gets the credit). I believe that an actual analyze is required to understand the work completely which is easiest done by putting the 12 tones in a square diagram.

    Your performance of this variation is according to my ears very good and there is little to nag about. I do not know the piece inside out so I cannot really comment if all notes are correct but comparing with a recording with Glenn Gould I have, it sounds extremely good. Your playing is clear which is of course important when it comes to Webern. The set is up on the site along with Webern's biography.
     
  7. John Robson

    John Robson New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Webern

    I finally got to listen to these, and I enjoyed them in a way. I don't claim to understand them. However, I believe when one learns to play them well that an understanding ensues. It's been a long time since I studied anything about 12 -tone music. Am I mistaken in my recollection that all twelve notes were to be played before any of them is repeated? If that is the rule, then these Webern variations don't strictly adhere to it.

    It sounds like they were very well played as with all of Kjarschka's posts.
     
  8. John Robson

    John Robson New Member Piano Society Artist

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    12-tone rules

    Google refreshed my memory:

    "When rigorously applied, the technique demands that one statement of the tone row must be heard in full (otherwise known as aggregate completion) before another can begin. Adjacent notes in the row can be sounded at the same time, and the notes can appear in any octave, but the order of the notes in the tone row must be maintained."

    Apparently, Webern didn't "rigorously" apply this rule in these Variations. I noticed several repeated notes and intervals before the 12 tone row had been stated completely.
     
  9. Syntaxerror

    Syntaxerror New Member

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    The pianist Peter Stadlen who played the debut performance worked together with Webern while practicing the piece and later remembered : "When he sang and shouted, moved his arms and stamped with his feet trying to express what he called the meaning of the music, I was very amazed to see that he treated these few single notes as if they were cascades of notes. He related to the melody all the time which - as he said - had to talk like a spoken sentence. This melody sometimes lay in the highest notes of the right hand and was some bars later split between left and right hand. It was formed by a huge effort of ongoing rubato and an impossibly foreseeable arrangement of accents. But there were also decisive changes of tempo to mark the beginning of a new spoken sentence... Occasionally he tried to indicate the general mood of a piece by comparing the "quasi improvisando" of the first movement with an Intermezzo of Brahms, or the scherzo character of the second with the Badinerie from Bach's b minor suite, about which one he thought while composing the "Variationen". But the way in which this had to be executed was precisely determined in Webern's imagination and was never even in the slightest left to the mood of the moment... Not a single time did Webern mention the row aspect of his piano variations. Even as I asked him, he refused to introduce me to it - because, he said, it would be important for me how to play the piece, and not how it had been made." (Translation by me from 'Harenberg Klaviermusikführer')

    I have an additional question to throw in here: Since some of you here said something about understanding or not understanding this piece, I would ask you what means understanding in the context of some more classical composers? Do you UNDERSTAND your favourite Mozart sonata/Chopin piece/put in whatever you like ? The "problem" with tonal music in terms of understanding is, to my mind, that you never even come to the point of asking the question of understanding - it's nice to listen to it , so I got it. -- A little oversimplified, but isn't it that way ?

    Another quote comes to my mind from contemporary composer Wolfgang Rihm: "Kunst ist nur durch Kunst erklärbar, wenn überhaupt." (Art can only be explained by art, if at all.)
     
  10. kjarschka

    kjarschka New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Webern...

    Dear all,
    first of all thanks for all your nice words about my performance. Thank you also for your comments about the piece - I'm glad that my performance brought a very interesting discussion in the site.

    Just a few words on the piece - or, better: a few words on how I think and feel these Variations.
    In fact, lots of books have been written on these Variations, and it would be really hard to resume such a big debate in a few lines...
    Anyway, I started by hating these variations, if I must be honest. I heard them first when I was 14, at a Masteclass in Vienna, and I thought they were horrible.
    After that, I learned to listen to some contemporary music like Schnittke, Gubajdulina and so on, and that helped me getting acquainted with the difficult musical language of our days.
    Moreover, music by Schnittke etc. is really full of spirituality and philosophy, just as Webern's.

    And afterwards I had to prepare some recital programs for my exam at Santa Cecilia, and one of them was dedicated to Variations (from Haendel to Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Webern). And probably this particular context helped me a lot.

    It is true that Webern is really hard, and his music looks like pure abstraction. But playing it, also in concerts, it reveals its deep content, and it is much more than pure formalism.
    When we see some pieces of broken glass on the floor, we can think that either they have been carefully placed one by one, or they are the result of an explosion.
    And this is what I feel in Webern. His music is not a abstract juxtaposition of sounds: it is what remains after the explosion of the universe... It is the music for our times, after Auschwitz and Hiroshima and the gulags etc. (even if Webern died before many of them).

    The first variation is all built on "sighs", and it is breathtaking, for me, to listen to the tension between the notes of the "melody". The second variation is built on a dance-scheme, and it is a reference to ancient Suites like Bach's or Haendels. It reminds me in particular of Mozart's "Kleine Gigue" (I will post it sometimes on this forum... an incredible piece!). And the third variation is an iced desert of loneliness, it is the contemplation of our destructed world from afar.
    Its long silences, its unanswered questions are desperate, but there is also a kind of light inside it.
    Well, it's hard to explain... what I wished to say is just this: as a performer, I don't play these variations like an aenigmistic game - on the contrary, they speak to my soul and to my heart.

    Of course, nobody is forced to like them - they are problematic, no doubt.
    But I thought that perhaps it could be interesting for some of the readers and listeners to know how I feel about them!!!! :)
    All the best...
    Chiara
    p.s. when I'll have time I'll record also Schoenberg's Kleine Klavierstuecke!!!! :)
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Re: Webern...

    It certainly is ! Would be great to have a good recording of it instead of my crappy one 8)
     
  12. John Robson

    John Robson New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Webern

    Thank you so much, Chiara, for your very interesting revelations about this music. I hope you will write more of your ideas. I find them fascinating and helpful in appreciating music new to my ears.
     
  13. kjarschka

    kjarschka New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you John, very kind of you!
    Unfortunately I am always fighting with Time, so I am rarely able to intervene in the forum. But I'll try to write a little more!
    :)
     

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