Thursday, May 16, 2013

Two poetry settings

Arnold Schoenberg (born in 1874) wrote Pierrot Lunaire in 1912. It is in 21 parts; 3 groups of 7 and uses the poems of Albert Giraud. It's weird. And wonderful. The sprechstimme vocal part is a bit eerie and the small instrumental accompaniment changes with each poem. The first set of seven deals with love, sex and religion. That is enough for this concert!

William Walton (born in 1902) wrote his 21 part piece on poems of Edith Sitwell. It premiered in 1923 (the poems were written in 1918) And the vocal parts in this are spoken. This isn't sounding like a coincidence! We know that Walton had heard Schoenberg's music because he criticized his own string quartet from 1923 as "full of undigested Bartok and Schoenberg".  Yet he borrowed the form of Pierrot Lunaire very closely. Presumably it was well digested.