One hundred or so years ago, Arnold Schönberg created the ‘Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen’ (Society for Private Musical Performances). An endlessly long list of recently composed works that had been kept out of the regular concert halls because of their outspoken modernist character was played here before the cream of the Viennese art circles. For lack of money, symphonic works were executed in versions for one or two pianos.
But another, particularly colourful cast made its appearance, one in which, next to strings and winds played by one instrumentalist, harmonium and piano played a decisive role.
For Het Collectief, the exploration of these reduced orchestral works also led to the discovery of the harmonium as a chamber music instrument.
The possibilities of this – in 1840 ‘officially’ introduced - instrument are well-known: a very specific, rich sonority and especially a flexible dynamic, perfectly matching the expressive, romantic style wielded by many a composer in those days. The perspective to let this instrument play a more prominent role in a chamber music programme led us to a cast including a piano and a few strings.
With the above instruments, we attempt to bring to life one of the most inspiring periods of time. When the nineteenth century launches its swan song, all over Europe new tendencies are bobbing up in the cultural world. The menace of the ‘Great War’ sets free sentiments of a diverse nature: confusion, nostalgia, escape into ideals, modernist thirst for action ...
And so we become acquainted with the final compositions of Brahms and Dvorak, coryphaei of a so familiar nineteenth century romanticism. In the decades thereafter, we witness the emergence of figures like Sigfrid Karg-Elert, who get acquainted with the modernity current, but at the same time do not wish to distance themselves from Wagnerian grandiloquence. In those very same years, Alban Berg causes a turmoil with his Altenberg Songs Opus 4. The so-called ‘Skandalkonzert’ (Scandal Concert) in Vienna (1913) was stopped prematurely because concertgoers had got involved in a scuffle.
Five years later, the first concert of Schönberg’s ‘Verein’ took place. We have come full circle...
Thomas Dieltjens, piano
Dirk Luijmes, harmonium
Wibert Aerts, violin
Vincent Hepp, violin & alto
Martijn Vink, cello
2021.07.19 International Organ Festival Haarlem (NL) - PREMIERE