Between the rise of the Avant-Garde in the 1950's and the development of
minimalism, the pseudomathematical twelve tone technique of Second Viennese
School of Shoenberg and his pupils Berg and Webern was seen by many academic
composers as the only serious method of composition. Partly due to the
'emancipation of consonance' brought about by the development of minimalism,
twelve tone technique fell out of favour towards the end of the twentieth
century, and the Second Viennese School developed a reputation as dry, academic
technicians rather than composers.
Recently the perception of this group of composers has shifted yet again.
There are few who would argue that strict twelve tone compositional methods
serve much purpose for composers today, however these innovations did help
to break the shackles of traditional harmony. Recently the continuation of
the Romantic line of composition by the twelve tone composers has been
emphasised, notably in Teldec's excellent recordings of orchestral music
of the Second Viennese School with Giuseppe Sinopli.
Naxos' new recording of piano music by Schoenberg, Berg and Webern also
highlights the continuity of the Austro-German Romantic tradition with these
composers. The pianist Peter Hill has recently had a great success with his
recording of music for piano by Boulez (also on Naxos). This new disc provides
a fascinating insight into musical developments in the first half of the
twentieth century, and includes some genuinely moving music, particularly
a heart-rending account of Berg's opus 1 'Sonata'. The music is superbly
performed, well recorded, and as always for Naxos, this disc costs just under
£5, making it an incredible bargin.