Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Beyond the Score Performance of Schoenberg's PIERROT LUNAIRE is Released Online
Modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg's landmark work, Pierrot lunaire, was recently the focus of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's award-winning Beyond the Score® series. That performance has been added to a selection of other Beyond the Score® presentations which can be streamed at no cost at the CSO's online magazine, Sounds & Stories (www.cso.org/sas).
An invention of the CSO, Beyond the Score® is a multimedia exploration that combines live theater, visual projections and the performance of musical excerpts by musicians of the CSO. After the multimedia presentation, the CSO performs the explored work in its entirety in a live concert setting.
This Beyond the Score® production of Pierrot lunaire was staged in 2012-the 100th anniversary of the piece-with four actors and six musicians. In 1912 and the years leading up to the First World War, Vienna was one of the most intellectually and artistically daring cities in Europe-the birthplace of Freud's psychoanalysis, the symphonies of Mahler and the paintings of Klimt. Also in 1912, the young Arnold Schoenberg, who was already at the center of this ferment, composed his extraordinary Pierrot lunaire over the course of just a few months. Consisting of 21 movements of poetry against an instrumental background, each setting varies in instrumentation; only in the final movement do all five musicians perform together. Each poem, drawn from the eponymous cycle of Albert Giraud and performed in a novel hybrid of speaking and singing (Sprechstimme), closely dictates the mood of its setting, resulting in a work of wide emotional range.
Beyond the Score Creative Director Gerard McBurney remarks, "I am thrilled that this astonishing work, and my colleagues' astonishing performance of it, can now be enjoyed and better understood by anyone with an internet connection. Pierrot lunaire has moved and fascinated the world of music for a century, and I hope viewers of our production come away knowing that it, like all great works of music, belongs to them."
This presentation, made with the generous help and support of Anne and Larry Schoenberg and of the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna, aims to immerse concertgoers in the drama and emotions of that time and of Schoenberg's groundbreaking work. Projected surfaces evoke the streets and cafés of 1912 Vienna and Berlin, where the piece was premiered. The presentation was conceived by Gerard McBurney, the creative director for Beyond the Score®, with lighting by veteran designer Peter Mumford and featuring Chicago-based actor Kevin Gudahl as Schoenberg. Gudahl is joined by actors William Dick, Kate Fry, and Demetrios Troy.
Cristian Macelaru conducts; the ensemble is soprano Kiera Duffy, pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and CSO members Robert Chen (concertmaster), Mathieu Dufour (principal flute), J.Lawrie Bloom (clarinet) and John Sharp (principal cello).
Following the exploration, the performance of the piece can be viewed in its entirety.