Schubert, Dale Roberts, Penderecki

Posted on December 16th, 2009 by


On the way home after a day working with the inspired young composers at York University. In the middle of the day, a happy return to the rhapsodic revolution of the Polish avantgarde of the 1960’s-performing Penderecki 1 with Lutoslawski. Nicola Lefanu was at the concert, and of course, talk turned to Schubert, much in all of our minds at the moment. I mentioned a note that I received from Jeremy Dale Roberts, this morning, a rather more penetrating insight into Schubert’s psyche than mine: 

I think the Schubert is one of the most terrifying, dismaying pieces EVER.
The major/minor thing – the same pull (a Punch and Judy push me/pull you:
like tragic/comic masks fighting, James Ensor) as the quintet – it’s not
sentimental or glib in a Mahlerian way; it’s schizo. Most alarming and kind
of macabre in the finale. I haven’t followed it up, but I wonder if the
homosexual thing that some people have made such a meal of might not lurk
there somewhere? It can’t have been a very comfortable position to be in, in
Metternich’s Vienna. And that obstinate Geschrei, G-B flat, in the slow
movt. is unhinged: he really did look into the abyss (genuine, not Gothick).
Who else? (Jeremy Dale Roberts)

As always, we learnt from our students than they from us, and it was a particular pleasure to see Ben Gait’s quartet working so well in the concert alongside the Penderecki and Lutoslawski Quartets. But the Schubert G major still hanging over all of our conversations, from the diabolical mechanism of the last movement, through to the appearance of  true Winterreise lyricism in the second.