David Grimal and Les Dissonances perform Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony No. 2

Chamber Music

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Les Dissonances

David Grimal — Artistic director, violinist

Program notes

The ensemble Les Dissonances takes on Schoenberg’s ambitious Chamber Symphony No. 2. The work received its premiere December 15, 1940 at Carnegie Hall, thirty-three years after the composer had first begun working on it! When he picked the piece up again, he quickly found himself with writer’s block. As he explained to the conductor Fritz Stiedry in a letter, “For a month I have been working on the Second Chamber Symphony. I spend most of the time trying to find out ‘What was the author getting at here?“ Over the course of the last three decades, the composer had left his native Austria for the United States and his style had evolved toward atonal music and dodecaphonism and away from his serialist style of the early 1900s. He eventually decided to “end the work in the style in which it had been conceived”. Returning to tonal music, the founder of the Second Viennese School found the exercise quite useful, commenting that “there is still a lot of good music to write in C major”!

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