This transcription of the Schoenberg Piano Concerto op. 42 for chamber orchestra was made at the request of Pina Napolitano to enable her to programme the work more frequently and also to facilitate a more chamber music relationship in the often intricate interplay between the piano and ensemble.
The reduction is scored for an ensemble similar to that of Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony op .9 and has been performed by the New Vienna International Symphony Orchestra and the Asyla, Colibrì, and Facade ensembles in Vienna, Italy, London, Oxford and Cambridge.
Schoenberg: Concerto for Piano, op. 42 (1942)
reduced orchestration for 14 players - Hugh Collins Rice (2016)
Hugh Collins Rice argues the case for transcription in a technological age
Schoenberg: Moses und Aron
reduced/chamber/touring orchestration - Hugh Collins Rice (2019)
[2(2picc).2(2ca).2(2Ebcl+bcl).2(2cbn) - 220.127.116.11 - 1perc.pf.2mand(1guit) - str(18.104.22.168.1)]
Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron is one of the seminal operas of the twentieth century. Written in the face of the virulent anti-Semitism of the 1930s its themes of communication and leadership, the will of the people in the face of authority and the role of the artist in speaking in politically turbulent times are all as important today as when Schoenberg wrote the work. Collins Rice’s reduced orchestration is designed to facilitate more frequent performances of this extraordinary opera; it has for example received just two professional productions in the United Kingdom in the past 40 years.
This reduced orchestration enables the work to be performed in smaller venues and in touring productions, reducing production costs. It enhances the chamber music qualities present in the score, allowing for greater lucidity in denser textures, allows a chamber choir to perform the complex chorus writing, and removes the need for off-stage and on-stage instrumentalists (everything can be played in the pit orchestra of 24 players).
Schoenberg’s music is ideally suited to chamber ensembles. In writing his Chamber Symphony op.9 for 15 players, Schoenberg set the template for the modern chamber orchestra and he expressed great hopes for its development and usefulness in the future. The linear complexities of Schoenberg’s music are often easier to hear in smaller ensembles and the opportunity to have a smaller chorus enables a greater flexibility in some of the most intricate and difficult choral music written for the operatic stage.