Esa-Pekka Salonen conductor
By the turn of the twentieth century, the Imperial Viennese ballroom dance was starting to be seen as old-fashioned. However, Ravel still treasured the waltz and wrote La Valse, originally entitled ‘Wien’, as a tribute to the birth and decay of the waltz genre and its chief master, Johann Strauss. Accordingly, its principal theme alludes to one of Strauss’s most famous waltzes, O schöne Mai. Berg dedicated his Three Pieces for Orchestra as a birthday gift for fellow composer and tutor of seven years, Arnold Schoenberg. Three Pieces is Berg’s only work written solely for orchestra and shows the composer’s burning desire to express himself as a truly modern composer. The result is a work that is at one moment uncertain and nebulous, and at another, erupts into catastrophic climaxes. The final March even includes Mahlerian hammer blows, as heard in the last movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 6.