Schoenberg: Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31
- two pianos, 4 hands
- New York City Ballet for Richard Tanner
Wuorinen composed his arrangement of Schoenberg’s Variations under a commission from New York City Ballet for the dance choreographed by Richard Tanner. The composer has written the following:
Schoenberg finished his Variations for Orchestra Op. 31 in 1928, and it is his first orchestral essay in his new “method of composing with twelve notes.” It is also a monument of modernity, of western music altogether, a great work. So much of the impression it makes seems to depend on the vivid orchestral colors of the score, that it may come as a surprise to find that this music is really “about” the notes more than anything else. This is why I thought the idea of making a version for two pianos was plausible; and in doing so I have tried to preserve all of the harmonic content of the piece. What we lose in color in this version, we gain in clarity.
"I was pleasantly surprised by Charles Wuorinen’s two-piano transcription of Arnold Schoenberg’s Opus 31 Variations for Orchestra, a version much more romantic in sound than the thickish Brahms-sounding original, and at the same time far clearer and more involving in its unfolding. I’ve always admired the work, if from a considerable distance. Wuorinen and the two-pianists brought it closer and also made it likable. If you don’t think that’s a feat, you don’t know the music." LA Weekly