9. All at sea?

Berg’s Three Orchestral Pieces – his, to quote from the composer, “fictitious symphony” – occupies a dark, expressionist, post-Mahlerian sound world.

A Prelude that moves from unpitched to pitched sound and back again; a Round Dance with hints of waltz, ländler and popular tunes; and, finally, a fragmented March, complete with the hammer blows of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony, that – like Ravel’s La Valse of four years later – tests the music to its breaking point.

Three orchestral pieces

0:00Präludium (Prelude)
5:32Reigen (Round Dance)
11:05Marsch (March)

La Mer

Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa (above) appeared on the cover of the original score of Debussy’s La Mer.

Debussy, determined to avoid traditional forms, described the work as trois esquisses symphoniques pour orchestre [three symphonic sketches for orchestra] and yet – not too far in the background – lurks the spectre of the symphony…

00:31 De l’aube à midi sur la mer. Très lent
[From Dawn to Noon on the Sea]
10:06 Jeux de vagues. Allegro
[Play of the Waves]
17:44 Dialogue du vent et de la mer. Animé et tumultueux
[Dialogue of the Wind and Sea]


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