Oxford Symphony Orchestra

Schoenberg and Bruckner

Tickets £16

Schoenberg - Five Pieces for Orchestra
Bruckner - Symphony no.8

Robert Max, conductor

Schoenberg's Five Pieces for Orchestra is not based on melodic line but on sounds, colours and textures: each movement has a theme. The first, “Premonitions”, is at times ominous, but also colourful and bombastic. The second movement, “Yesteryears”, is delicate, maybe evoking a sleepless night in the woods, and illustrates Schoenberg's talent for texture and sensitivity. The third, “Summer Morning by a Lake”, breaks up a melodic line amongst different instruments. “Peripetia” then takes the listener on an energy-filled ride ending in a climax. The final movement, “The Obligatory Recitative” is lyrical and bucolic, with a single melodic line running through the whole orchestra and a happy ending.

Bruckner's 8th was his last completed symphony, and it is truly magnificent in its size and splendour. Bruckner's symphonies are sometimes compared to orchestral cathedrals, and this work certainly demonstrates the complexity and richness of its grand Wagnerian construction. However, among the contemplation, and the rich soundscape of low brass, also lurks unsettling drama. The impressive finale manages to combine the opening themes from all the movements at once.

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