Date / Place I

07 November 2015 Gare du Nord, Basel

Date / Place II

08 November 2015 Gare du Nord, Basel





Arnold Schönberg (1874–1951) “Chamber Symphony” op. 9 (1906), arrangement by Anton Webern for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1922/23), revised by Jürg Henneberger (2002/2014) – 22' Anton Webern (1883–1945) “Concerto” op. 24 for nine instruments (1934) – 7' Alban Berg (1885–1935) “Chamber Concerto” (1924/25), arrangement for violin, two pianos, flute/piccolo, clarinet/bass clarinet, horn and trombone by Alban Berg (Adagio) and Jürg Henneberger (1990/2015) – 39'


Jürg Henneberger
conductor, piano
Christoph Bösch
flute, piccolo
Pilar Fontalba
Toshiko Sakakibara
clarinet, bass clarinet
Jean-François Taillard
Johannes Mielke
Kevin Austin
Kirill Zvegintsov
Friedemann Treiber
Caterina Comas
Beat Schneider

Program description

Two important chamber works of the “New Viennese School” are presented and contrasted in the opening concert of the 2015/16 season: Arnold Schoenberg’s “Chamber Symphony” op. 9 (1906) and Alban Berg’s “Chamber Concerto” (1924/25). Schoenberg’s “Chamber Symphony” is by no means finished with the first version for 15 instruments, which he completed in 1906. For decades he struggled again and again to find the right instrumentation, the right “size” of this symphony, but he also reacted in part to the famously not only enthusiastic reception of the piece by Viennese concert audiences. This symphony in a single movement lends itself to arrangements; Anton Webern also dared to do so and created a version for five instruments (the same instrumentation as in Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire”), which will be heard in the concert in a version revised by Jürg Henneberger. In Schoenberg’s eyes, the “Chamber Symphony No. 1”, which also has the tonal subtitle in E major, represents a real turning point. He hoped that a “way out of the confusing problems in which we young composers were entangled by the harmonic, formal, orchestral and emotional innovations of Richard Wagner” would be shown. The problems with the first as well as the “Chamber Symphony No. 2”, begun immediately thereafter, with which Schoenberg got completely stuck, shows that this way out was not so effortless after all.

Albans Berg’s “Chamber Concerto” (1924/25) is somewhat too often reduced to its character as a dedication work for Schoenberg’s fiftieth birthday in 1924. He had “wanted to show his brilliance,” one then only needs to read of Berg to suspect a false, over-ambitious gesture in the work. And one would do injustice to the wonderful and full music, whose complexity is undeniably dense and deep – Adorno called it “a kind of insatiability”. Of almost twice the duration of Schoenberg’s “Chamber Symphony”, Berg’s work has the layout of a double concerto for piano and violin. The formal details with which Berg refers to his friendships with Webern and Schoenberg are numerous and can be read in any appropriate CD booklet. More essential, even for Berg himself, is the “hidden” program that results in a synthesis step of the three movements – “Friendship, Love, World” Berg had originally outlined – and the two solo instruments. In the arrangement by Alban Berg and Jürg Henneberger played here, part of the original 13 wind instruments is replaced by a second piano.

Unlike Berg’s “Chamber Concerto”, there is no solo instrument here. Webern’s “Concerto” is rather a dialogue between nine instruments, all of which have both solo and chamber tasks.