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Area of Study E Playlist

This list includes a selection of pieces written by Debussy, Ravel, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Prokofiev, Poulenc and Stravinsky that are both in the relevant timeframe (1895-1935) and in the focus styles. This means much great music by these composers has been omitted, for example the exotic violence of Stravinsky’s ‘Russian’ period (particularly The Rite of Spring and Petrushka) or Prokofiev’s awesome film score for Alexander Nevsky (too late) or indeed his Scythian Suite (1915 but not really NeoClassical). You can access it on Spotify here (https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6IhnLexinqXx9yINK0A6Iq?si=63ef941248604456) or search for the music on your preferred platform!

Berg1910Four songs op. 2 no. 3Early atonal work. Not serial but uses retrogrades and symmetries as part of its construction.
Berg1922WozzeckOpera. Written before serial technique developed. Despite being atonal uses lots of pre-C20 forms and dance styles.
Berg1926Lyric Suite for String QuartetSix movement string quartet written using a fairly strict serial technique although, as the title suggests, it has a lyrical quality.
Berg1935Violin ConcertoDedicated to the memory of the death of a friend’s 18 year old daughter and his most often-played work. Serial but the row is set up to produce tonal triads and progressions.
Berg1935LuluOpera (unfinished). Serial, but different characters have their own tone rows, somewhat changing the overall impact of the technique.
Debussy1893String Quartet in G minorAn early piece that uses lots of exotic and unstable harmonies despite its basic grounding in a modally inflected tonality. Debussy’s only quartet was the model for Ravel’s.
Debussy1894Prelude de l’apres midi d’un faunDebussy’s most famous work. Symphonic poem that evokes an exotic and sensual scene of a faun (mythical creature) playing pan-pipes in the woods before becoming aroused by passing nymphs and naiads, and pursuing them before succumbing to sleep.
Debussy1901Pour le pianoFirst mature piano composition. Suite of three pieces that although colourful and impressionistic in some ways are also somewhat neoclassical in their employment of dance movements from a Baroque suite.
Debussy1901Pelleas et MelisandeAn opera influenced to large extent by Wagner, including the use of leitmotifs. However neither the vocal nor orchestral writing are Wagnerian, with Debussy’s writing much more subdued and evocative and the vocal lines following more natural speech rhythms.
Debussy1913PreludesSeries of 24 piano pieces each which evoke such impressionistic scenes as ‘Sails’ and ‘Footsteps in the snow’.
Poulenc1918Trois mouvements perpetuelleOne of Poulenc’s most popular piano works. Tuneful, ironic and light-hearted, each movement ends rather inconclusively.
Poulenc1922Les BichesLes Biches means female deers but is used to mean darlings as well. Poulenc wrote the music for a ballet that did not really have a story but just depicted a series of scenes of young people at a house party. The music was collected into a suite in which the voices are optional.
Poulenc1928Concert champêtreA bizarre but fun concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra!
Poulenc1931Quatre poems de Guillaume ApollinairePoulenc’s setting of four poems that are full of surrealist wit.
Poulenc1932SextetLots of obvious Classical references, particularly in the second two movements, but also heavily influenced by jazz. Self-consciously Neo-Classical, almost to the point of parody.
Poulenc1932Concerto for Two Pianos and OrchestraOne of the best works from his early period, this concerto blends influences from Mozart, Ravel and even Balinese Gamelan music.
Poulenc1957Flute SonataOutside our time period but one of Poulenc’s most played works with his trademark blend of lyricism and wit.
Prokofiev1917Symphony 1: Classical SymphonyWritten as a reinterpretation of the symphonic style of Mozart and Haydn. An early work composed partly as an exercise in working away from the piano, it is lightly scored and energetic.
Prokofiev1921The Love for Three OrangesA satirical comic opera most famous for the often-played March (included in a suite of movements taken from the opera).
Prokofiev1935Romeo and JulietProkofiev’s music for this ballet is most often heard in its incarnation as three orchestral suites – the leaping melody from Montagues and Capulets being perhaps one of the composer’s best known. Dramatic with some striking dissonances, there is nevertheless much NeoClassical about this work
Prokofiev1928Symphony No. 3Adapted from an abandoned opera The Fiery Angel. It is in a traditional four movements, with the first in sonata form but the music is very dramatic with harsh dissonances and ends with monstrously violent chords!
Prokofiev1932Piano Concerto No. 5Prokofiev was a renowned pianist and, like most of his piano concertos he premiered this one. Originally it was going to be a very simple work called “Music for Piano and Orchestra” but as it got more complex it ended up joining his piano concerto roster! It is in five short movements, most of them very lively.
Prokofiev1935Violin Concerto No. 2One of Prokofiev’s more conventional compositions, driven by the violin melodies. The piece has echoes of various places Prokofiev visited during its composition, most notably Spain in the final Rondo, which includes castanets as an accompaniment to its main theme.
Ravel1903String Quartet in FModelled on the older Debussy’s earlier quartet but has a rather more Classical and restrained feel.
Ravel1908Rhapsodie espagnoleOrchestral piece in four movements with strong Spanish influences reflecting his Spanish ancestry on his mother’s side.
Ravel1912Daphnis and ChloeInhabiting the same mythical poetic world as Debussy’s L’apres midi, this ballet score is lush both harmonically and orchestrally and is one of his most clearly impressionistic works.
Ravel1917Le tombeau de CouperinWritten originally as a set of dance movements in homage to the Baroque French composer Francois Couperin. Although written as a set of Baroque dances and with clear 18th century influences, the work nevertheless has colourful chromatic harmonies and this element is brought out clearly in Ravel’s orchestral reworking of four of the movements in 1919.
Ravel1920La ValseAn impressionistic re-imagining of a Waltz, which emerges out of its opening rumblings and eventually whirls itself to destruction. Written as a ballet but much better known as a concert work.
Schoenberg1909EwartungA classic Expressionist monodrama in which the complex atonal style is used to portray the increasing emotional upset of a woman who searches for her lover in a forest only to find his body.
Schoenberg1912Pierrot LunaireAn atonal setting of a series of poems about the tragic clown Pierrot (from French pantomime). The music ironically draws on a range of Baroque forms and techniques but is presented as a melodrama with the singer/actor half-singing half-speaking accompanied by a small ensemble. It is one of Schoenberg’s most performed works.
Schoenberg1927String Quartet No. 3An early fully serial work following a traditional four-movement structure ending with a Rondo.
Schoenberg1928Variations Op. 31Schoenberg’s first large-scale serial work is a set of variations on a twelve-tone row.
Stravinsky1920PulcinellaBallet based on works by a range of Baroque composers (although attributed at the time to Pergolesis)
Stravinsky1923OctetOne of Stravinsky’s earlier Neo-Classical works, it caused upset amongst those used to his earlier style. The piece is written for a combination of woodwind and brass instruments and is exceptionally severe in style, although it draws on traditional forms such as sonata form in its first movement.
Stravinsky1924Concerto for Piano and Wind InstrumentsRevised in 1950, Stravinsky wrote this for himself to perform on concert tours. Despite its spiky harmonies, it is in a very clearly Neo-Baroque style starting with slow dotted rhythms in French overture style. The combination of piano and wind without strings is very typically Stravinskian.
Stravinsky1928Apollon musageteA Neo-Classical work drawing on the French ballet tradition, delicately scored for string orchestra. The restraint and clarity of the writing makes a striking contrast with Stravinsky’s earlier Russian period works (Rite of Spring etc.).
Stravinsky1931Concerto in D for ViolinStravinsky wrote this in close collaboration with Dushkin, its first performer, as he was relatively unfamiliar with the violin. Each movement starts with an unusual chord D-E-A and Stravinsky combines the violin with a light orchestral accompaniment with great skill.
Stravinsky1932Duo ConcertanteA piece for piano and violin played across Europe by Stravinsky with the violinist Dushkin.
Webern1913Six Bagatelles for String QuartetA pre-serial work this still has the hallmarks of Webern’s style – economical and very sparse but nevertheless highly expressive. The work is divided into six very short movements of less than a minute each.
Webern1913Five Pieces for OrchestraLike the bagatelles, these are not serial but are highly chromatic and concentrated. It prefigures serialism in that he generally uses all the chromatic notes before repeating them.
Webern1925Three lieder for Voice, Eb Clarinet and Guitar op. 18A series of song settings that are written using a strictly serial technique.
Webern1934Concerto for Nine InstrumentsA highly concentrated work that explores the symmetry of its tone row, which is split into four three-note segments.
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