Chamber Symphony No. 1
Non-subscription concert chamber music
Chamber music and symphonic composition – a combination that may sound contradictory at first, but it was precisely this contradiction that gave a decisive new impulse to music at the beginning of the 20th century. Arnold Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony, op. 9, composed in 1906, took a giant step towards a new tonal language. With the music of Gustav Mahler, the Austro-German symphonic tradition had reached its limits in terms of length and instrumental complexity. Schoenberg dared to make a fresh start: with a 20-minute symphonic composition for no more than 15 instruments which departed radically from the Romantic ideal of sonority. This single-movement work fuses such traditional formal elements as sonata, adagio and scherzo in unprecedented ways. The symphony experienced a rebirth as chamber music! A similar case is Benjamin Britten’s op. 1, a Sinfonietta for ten instruments written in 1932 towards the end of his studies with Frank Bridge and dedicated to his teacher. John Adams composed one of the most recent examples in his rhythmically challenging Chamber Symphony, premiered in 1993, whose instrumentation corresponds strikingly to that of Schoenberg’s. There is much to discover in this concert given by scholars of the Orchester-Akademie and members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, performing together under the direction of Stanley Dodd, a Philharmoniker violinist since 1994 as well as an accomplished conductor.