Arnold Schoenberg

Pieces (2) for piano, Op. 33

    Description by John Palmer

    In the period between the composition of his operas Von Heute auf Morgen (1928 - 29) and Moses und Aron (1930 - 32), Schoenberg wrote a handful of works on a smaller scale. In the Two Piano Pieces, Op. 33 (1928 - 31), the composer returned to the keyboard as a means of compact yet intense expression. Aside from a two-piano arrangement of the Chamber Symphony No. 2 and the Piano Concerto (1942), the Two Pieces, composed at different times and originally published separately, are Schoenberg's last works for piano.

    Schoenberg's direct, non-virtuosic keyboard style is clearly evident in these pieces. Unlike the individual movements of the Suite, Op. 25, the Op. 33 pieces have no title; like the Suite, though, they employ Schoenberg's then-recently developed twelve-tone technique. The texture of Op. 33 is distinct from that in the earlier work. In the Two Pieces, especially the first, the presentation of row forms is largely vertical -- that is, as part of a chord as opposed to a contrapuntal line. Heterogeneous passages provide the contrast necessary to give the work its shape; a cantabile melody in the uppermost voice contributes to a sense of continuity. The overall atmosphere is more subdued and controlled than that in the similar pieces of Op. 11.

    The second piece of Op. 33 is more linear in conception than the first. The intensity grows as segments featuring several layers of sound contrast with mostly chordal passages, which dissipate before the return of the initial material at a faster tempo. The opening in particular features more ideas subjected to repetition than does the first of the Op. 33 pieces, as well as melodies that exhibit an arch-like shape.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Piano Piece, Op. 33A. Mässig
    2. Piano Piece, Op. 33B. Mässig langsam

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Steinway & Sons STNS 30100
    2015 Sony Classical 88875032222
    2014 Sony Classical G010003219297F
    2014 Sony Classical 888430147621
    2013 Mirare MIR 191
    2013 Odradek ODR 300
    2012 Sony Classical 88725413642
    2012 Audite AUDITE 21412
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 4779918
    2011 MDG MDG6131434
    2010 Actes Sud / Musicales Actes Sud 03
    2010 MDG 9041593-6
    2009 Arcana 315
    2008 Arbiter 155
    2008 Sony Music Distribution 714797
    2005 Nonesuch
    2005 BIS 1417
    2003 Scandinavian Classics 220531
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 471350
    1999 Hat Hut Records / Hat[now]Art 125
    1999 Naxos 553870
    1999 Harmonia Mundi 290888
    1995 Sony Classical 52664
    1994 Symposium 1107
    1992 Nonesuch 71309
    1992 Harmonia Mundi 190752
    1988 Deutsche Grammophon 423249
    Accord 200852
    Deutsche Grammophon 471361