Webern’s passionate instructions to Stadlen were so extreme that ‘notes had become almost incidental and were only regarded as carriers of expression’. Little wonder that Webern himself likened the first movement to a Brahms intermezzo, and the frolicking agility of the second movement to the flute-mad Badinerie of Bach’s B minor orchestral suite! If there is a bleakness heard in this music, most potently in the final movement, we must again recall the uncertainties of the times. By 1937, Schoenberg had fled to California, and Webern, whose music had been declared ‘degenerate’ after Hitler’s rise to power, faced his final years of isolation in Austria.
from notes by Grant Hiroshima © 2007