Alban Berg’s Piano Sonata, Op. 1 begins with a craving, upward-reaching line which dreamily recollects the opening of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Quickly, we hear stressed autumnal strains which appear to have drifted out of late Mahler. Composed in 1908, that is music which basks within the brilliantly hued twilight of Romanticism. Harmonically, the important thing of B minor maintains a tenuous maintain in a chromatic and whole-tone sea, awash in shifting key facilities and moments of close to atonality. Glenn Gould, who recorded the piece at least eight instances, described it as “expansive, pessimistic, and unquestionably ecstatic.”
By 1908, the excesses of nineteenth century Romanticism had been stretched to a close to breaking level. Mahler’s sprawling Ninth Symphony, begun in 1908 and accomplished the next 12 months, did not discover a transcendent decision. Whereas the Symphony is ready in D, its closing motion is an Adagio which reaches a halting conclusion in D-flat main, a half step decrease and a world away. An identical sense of disintegration and lament is current in Berg’s Sonata.
Initially, Berg meant to jot down a standard sonata in 4 actions. Finally, the Piano Sonata was printed in 1910 as a single motion, lasting simply over ten minutes. Arnold Schoenberg, with whom Berg studied, urged that on this single motion, the younger composer “had stated all there was to say.” The Piano Sonata unfolds with Schoenberg’s growing variation method. With its compressed drama and pathos, maybe it may be heard as an epilogue to Romanticism.
Featured Picture: “4 Bushes” (1917), Egon Schiele