Arnold Schoenberg founded the Society for Private Musical Performances in 1918 to perform contemporary music from ‘Mahler to the present’. Mahler had been an early supporter of Schoenberg’s music, and Schoenberg repaid the favour by arranging Mahler’s orchestral works for chamber ensemble and including them at the society’s concerts. The colourful Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen are given a feel of great intimacy in this form, while the lighter scoring of Das Lied von der Erde has the advantage of clarifying instrumental textures, its magical effects capturing ‘the finite nature of earthly things’.
Tianwa Yang, Violin
Barcelona Symphony Orchestra
Listen to TRACK 8: MANÉN, J.: Concierto español
These two concertos–one a staple of the repertoire, the other almost unknown–share melodic richness and a Spanish influence. Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole reflects the quicksilver technique of its dedicatee, Pablo de Sarasate, in its ingenious and virtuosic passagework, with its moods and rhythms indelibly Iberian in feel. Joan Manén, in his day almost as famous as his fellow Catalan Pau Casals, was an admired virtuoso violinist and a prominent composer. His Concierto español, the first of three violin concertos, is suffused with technical demands, lyric warmth, and rhapsodic nostalgia. Soloist Tianwa Yang’s Sarasate recordings have received international acclaim.
Listen to TRACK 13: String Quartet in G major, Op. 77 No. 1
Joseph Haydn claimed to have discovered the string quartet form by accident. His Op. 1, No. 1 has the cheerful five-movement form of a Divertimento, while the glorious and harmonically daring Op. 77, No. 1 was among the last he completed in the genre. Falling between the two, Op. 33, No. 5 is full of rhythmic surprises and a theme that gives it the nickname ‘How do you do?’ The award-winning Goldmund Quartet is considered one of today’s most exciting young European string quartets.
The Chansonnier Cordiforme is a songbook, probably copied in 1475 for a roguish but musically cultivated priest named Jean de Montchenu–a contemporary chronicler called him ‘dissolute and full of all the vices’. The beautiful manuscript containing 43 songs is, uniquely, heart-shaped and covered in velvet. This recording presents both a representative cross-section of the manuscript’s repertoire, the majority of which is set to French texts and is among the best known and beautiful of the age, and a portfolio of differing performance options including instruments. In addition to works by such luminaries as Gilles Binchois and Johannes Ockeghem–music of elegant melody, textural refinement, and sometimes startling harmonic turns–there are ingenious and anonymous parodies of popular songs.