Glenn Gould - Piano
Albert Pratz - Violin
Recorded in Toronto Eaton's Auditorium, a 10 inch 33-1/3 rpm record.
Piano Sonata, Opus 1, By Alban Berg
Glenn Gould - Piano
Alban Berg's Piano Sonata was written in 1908. Its date of composition is of special interest for that year is a landmark in the history of modern music. It was in 1908 that Berg's teacher, Arnold Schoenberg consummated the evolution of three hundred years of tonal music and by writing three piano pieces, opus 11, the first music which paid no allegiance to the centralized harmonic scheme we call tonality. Thus the 23 year old Alban Berg was irrevocably entangled in a conflict which has not subsided to this day and to which in due course he was to add the specific impact of his own personality.
For our present point of view it is difficult to imagine the turbulence of that era in the musical life of Vienna. The first works of Schoenberg which provoked such profound shock and bewilderment 50 years ago, seem to us today a logical and cohesive extension to the traditions of the Austro-German romantic school.
The intense emotionalism of this music found an outlet in an expansive harmonic language which was developed through an increasingly chromatic use of chordal progression. When, with such masters as Wagner, and Richard Strauss, the analytical ambiguity which resulted made apparent the modulatory capacities of previously remote harmonic areas, the bulwarks of classical tonality were in decay. Wtih Schoenberg, the process pursued a slow but inevitable destiny. The continuing harmonic enfranchisement coupled with Schoenberg's persistant contrapunctal preoccupation soon produced vertical units with a tendency to demand explanation per se. Obviously, this requirement could be fulfilled only by a conception of pure dissonance based upon the equality of the chromatic, twelve tone scale, which became a common denominator. This, summarily, was the situation in the first decade of this century. Though much had been lost, a vast territory was now open for exploration.
Schoenberg's activities at this time drew about him group of fervent admirers and devoted students among whom Alban Berg and Anton Webern are most important. Berg spent 4 years, 1904-1908, under the inspired guidance of Schoenberg, and his tremendous technical development during these years is attested by the various songs he wrote, which form a kaleidascope of style and idiom. But it is in piano sonata opus 1, that we first become conscious of Berg's very singular musical personality. In this restless and impasioned work, there is present the whole range of acquisitions which were available to Berg at that time. The sonata's one movement is strictly organized on classical lines, expositon, development and recapitulation. It maintains throughout vestiges of its key-signature, B minor. But the episodes which can be analysed according to the triad principle, are interspersed with passages which can only be deduced by purely chromatic laws of tension and relaxation.
The main problem which confronting Berg, and indeed all of the composers under Schoenberg's influence was to find new means to replace the architectural unity engendered by the tonal system; to utilize the linear freedom inherent in the transience of the harmony in order to attain a motivic coherence capable of imparting to every note an organic vitality which would make it an indispensible participant in the constructive idea. Berg accomplishes this in masterly fashion. It may truthfully be said that the entire contrapuntal texture may be reduced to three fragmentary motives and elaboration of their variants. These motives are synthesized in the opening phrase as a melody, a procedure which, in combining many features of the motivic complexes in one embryonic super-motive, foreshadows the development of the twelve-tone technique of 15 years later.
The Berg sonata is music which looks back over a dynasty, which refects the excitement and instability of a transition, and which prophetically forecasts the future. It is music from the twilight of tonality.
- Glenn Gould
Three Fantastic Dances, Opus 1
- Dmitri Shostakovich (transcribed by Harry Glickman)
The Birth of the Harp
- Serge Taneieff (transcribed by Arthur Hartmann)
The Winter Fairy, from 'Cinderella'
- Serge Prokofieff (transcribed by M. Fichtengoltz)
Albert Pratz - Violin
Glenn Gould - Piano
Artist Biographies from the Hallmark album.
Glenn Gould was born in Toronto in 1932 where his great musical promise soon attracted considerable attention at an early age. In 1943 he began studying Alberto Guerrero, and the following year, at the age of twelve, became an Associate of the Toronto Conservatory of Music, the youngest student ever to do so. By his eighteenth year he had appeared four times as guest soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and has since become widely known and admired through his appearances with other orchestras across the country, as well as through his broadcasts over the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
He has been strongly attracted to the moderns, especially Hindemith, Schoenberg, Webern, Berg and the 12-tone school in general.
Albert Pratz received his musical training in London, New York and Toronto, and has since divided his musical career largely between the latter two cities. Since 1934 he has appeared as conductor and soloist with the CBC, and has been heard as soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestran and the Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, he has been a member of the NBC Symphony Orchestra for eight seasons, and concert-master and soloist for many NBC programs.
From **The Young Glenn Gould - In Memoriam 1932 - 1982**
Albert Pratz remembers the young Glenn Gould:
"At 20, he was already an outstanding musician, and also already quite eccentric, even then. He wore his gloves and overcoat in the summer, always carried his kit of medications with him, and insisted on having the temperature in the recording studio up at 90 degrees. We had trouble getting him to play trios by composers he didn't care for, like Schubert or Mendelssohn. He wasn't too eager to record the Russian pieces (on this LP), either, but he was very gracious about it, and even seemed to enjoy himself at the time. He did a wonderful job, too. We recorded these pieces late at night, at about 1:30 in the morning, after the streetcars stopped running. That was fine with Glenn, because that was about the time he usually woke up!
"It was very shocking to hear of his death," concludes Pratz. "It was a great tragedy and a great loss, for music, for Canada, and for the world."