Webern - Quartet Op.22: movement I

Instrumental set work

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  • Created by: Joe
  • Created on: 18-04-11 10:17

Background

  • - Dates from 1930

- Serialism

  • Technique associated with the Second Viennese School
  • Schoenburg and Berg - famous serialist composers

- Webern's music tends to be short and concentrated - compression

- Signs of Neoclassicism

  • Reliance on counterpoint
  • Symmetrical structure

- It was intended to be performed by professional musicians at a concert

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Rhythm and metre

- The metre is mainly 3/8 but changes frequently to 4/8 & 5/8

- From bar 24 it is all in 3/8

- The pointillist instrumentation and random placing of material makes it difficult to detect a pulse

- The work is built on 3 rhythmic cells

- One of the exceptions to this is the sax in bars 6-10 and 12-13 where there are 4 semiquavers

- Rests contribute to the rhythmically dislocated effect

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Melody

- Angular melodic lines i.e. large leaps

- Typical large intervals:

  • Major 7th
  • Minor 9th
  • Major 10th

- Frequent octave displacements (sax melody bars 6-8 compared with recapitulation at bar 28)

- All melodic material derives from the row

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Harmony

- There is very little harmony!

- Vertical structures frequently have no more than 2 notes

- Some 3 and 4 note chords (bar 11 - semiquaver 4, bar 12 - semiquaver 2)

- No cadences

- Very dissonant

  • No preparation or resolution
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Tonality

- Atonal

- Serial work based on 12 note rows

- The 'prime order' is heard in the tenor sax (bars 6-10)

- The order is used throughout the piece:

  • Inversion (tenor sax in bars 1-3 compared with the 1st 3 notes of the prime in bars 6-7)
  • Retrograde (piano right hand bar 21)
  • Retrograde inversion (violin in bar 1 starts the prime order 10 semitones higher than the prime in bar 6)
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Structure

- Ternary or sonata form

  • Introduction
  • 1st repeated section is a sort of exposition and the prime is clearly announced in the sax
  • 2nd repeated passage has the equivelant of a development and from bar 28 a recapitulation
  • Coda after repeated with introductory material in retrograde
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Resources/Texture

- Unusual combination of performing forces in the work

- Wide range of performance techniques:

  • Pizzicato/arco (violin)
  • Mute on and off (violin)
  • Rapid contrasts of articulation and dynamics (all instruments)
  • Spread chords in both directions (piano)

- Frequent use of isolated notes - hence pointillism

- Klangfarbenmelodie (sound colour melody) with melody line split between instruments. E.g. Comparing orginal prime statement bars 6-10 on tenor sax with restatement starting at bar 28:

  • Bar 28: Clarinet C# - E
  • Bars 29-30: Violin F - D; clarinet D# - B
  • Bars 30-31: Tenor sax Bb-A-G#
  • Bar 32: Violin F#-C-G

- Contrapuntal texture with mirror cannons

Texture intensifies at climax in the development - more overlapping

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