Arnold Schoenberg – Erwartung
We have identified only 15 recordings published on discs of this work :
which, with duplicates, gives a dozen singers over 60 years … Score difficulty, written in 1909 – but that not created until 1924 under Alexander von Zemlinsky – or difficulty to find singers capable of doing it ? Probably the two reasons.
Synopsis: A woman is in an apprehensive state as she searches for her lover. In the darkness, she comes across what she first thinks is a body, but then realises is a tree-trunk. She is frightened and becomes more anxious as she cannot find the man she is looking for. She then finds a dead body, and sees that it is her lover. She calls out for assistance, but there is no response. She tries to revive him, and addresses him as if he were still alive, angrily charging him with being unfaithful to her. She then asks herself what she is to do with her life, as her lover is now dead. Finally, she wanders off alone into the night.
Here, an introduction to the work.
For sure it’s not very joyful : we are in morbid expressionism … The work is in four scenes, the first three representing a gradual entry into the fear and anxiety to reach the final, most developed -three times longer than the first three , the work’s duration being a little more than half an hour .
We have listened to the first scene in the available versions .
The pioneer Mitropoulos : bad sound, the singer is hardly consistent with the dynamic markings .
Total change with Scherchen : it more lively, sounds better , the voice of Pilarczyk is very fascinating .
Janis Martin and Boulez are very clear.
Anja Silja and Dohnanyi : it’s more bitter than Boulez , singershowing expressionism .
Jessye Norman / Levine : the singer who gives her party with the most evidence yet.
Bryn- Julson / Rattle : she is the only one to follow all the indications, while living her party, including even a little “sprechgesang” . Alessandra Marc / Sinopoli : I find the voice unbearable (vibrato , cries) , the orchestra is beautiful and very well recorded, oo bad.
Silja / Craft : Sound too reverberant , voice often strident. Charbonnet / Saraste : same …
Pilarczyk / Scherchen : very dramatic voice not always pleasant.
Martin / Boulez : Very well sung, instruments lack of presence .
Silja / Dohnanyi : Beautiful tone, a little bit affected – and the orchestra is more interesting than Boulez.
Norman / Levine : Same superb phrasing, very well accompanied.
Bryn- Julson / Rattle : the voice is a litle bit too much integrated with the orchestra, but it’s very well done. We go directly to the scene III
I will keepthree versions: Silja / Dohnanyi – Norman / Levine – Bryn- Julson / Rattle.
Silja / Dohnanyi : Pretty dramatic, superb orchestra, some non important vocal approximations, many beautiful or impressive moments .
Norman / Levine: It’s even better sung , with pronunciation and superior projection and impeccable orchestra…
Bryn- Julson / Rattle : Voice is less present , more ” instrumental ” but this view of strict musicality without adding any effect finally pays off: we are even more taken .
We therefore retain Jessye Norman and Phyllis Bryn- Julson in this very strong work, and we willl be waiting a long time I ‘m afraid for a new version of such a level.