Arnold Schoenberg – String Quartet No. 2

Of all of the Schoenberg pieces that I’ve heard to date, this is by far the most approachable, probably because of it’s extended tonality, giving me a clear idea of what he’s trying to do.

Although there’s an identifiable harmony (at least at the beginning of the first three movements), I do feel that the composer has relied too much on discord to create tension when a solid, standard tonal idea would have worked just as well.

I can appreciate the piece and, to an extent, enjoy it as a piece of music but I still feel that Schoenberg is trying to be too clever and almost contrary by purposefully skirting any semblance of traditional harmony for the majority of the work. By the end of the second movement the concept has worn a little thin and although it’s punctuated with dramatic dynamics, my uneducated ear finds it banal and tiring.

Hear the first movement here (the others follow at the end).

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