Rudolf Kolisch: Schoenberg Violin Concerto, Rene Leibowitz

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Arnold Schoenberg, Concerto for Violin & Orchestra, Rudolf Kolisch, Rene Leibowitz

Arnold Schönberg
Arnold Schönberg
Though the Violin Concerto uses twelve-tone technique, its neoclassical form demanded a mimesi
s of tonal melody, and hence a renunciation of the motivic technique used in his earlier work in favour of a thematic structure.

It is in a three movement quick-slow-quick form, traditional for concertos: 1. Poco allegro—Vivace. Opinion is divided about the form of the first movement. According to one authority, it is in sonata form, while another asserts it is a large ternary form, concluding with a cadenza and a coda. It employs a wide variety of row forms, often in families associated by hexachordal content.
2. Andante grazioso
3. Finale: Allegro. The last movement is a rondo with an unusually dynamic development. It only gradually becomes clear that the underlying character is that of a march. There is a second cadenza just before the end, which rounds off the whole work in cyclic fashion.

"Among the orchestra works of Arnold Schoenberg (and even within the symphonic repertoire in gereral) the Concerto for Violin is without doubt one of the most difficult. Furthermore this work is an exceptionally successful one, and the place which it assumes within its category seems to me one of extreme importance. I will not hesitate to assert that we are dealing with one of the greatest violin concertos ever composed (a position which I think it shares only with the Concerto for Violin by Beethoven) and I believe therefore that sooner or later it will assume the role which is due to it in the repertoire. To begin with, the difficulties of the Violin Concerto are to be found in the solo part. This part seemed at first unplayble (significantly enough Schoenberg himself used to say that it would take a violist with six fingers to master it). Whereas we have used the concept of idiomatic expression applied to the violin part, we might say not that such a concept seldom applies to the orchestra treatment. Certain typical orchestral features are to be found throughout the work. On the other hand, one must observe that, for the most part, the orchestra is treated in very unusual fashion. The main characteristic of the orchestral treatment is one of atomization. This process of atomization exterts itself in practically every dimension. Melocic lines are seldom given to the same instrument or instrumental group for any length of time. More ofteh, they shift from one instrument or instrumental group to another and, often too, they are conceived in an organ-like 'mixture,' this mixture itself being subjitted to constant variation." Rene Leibowitz