A program of 20th-century masterworks

Author: Carol C. Bradley

Karen Buranskas Karen Buranskas

On Sunday, Nov. 11, Notre Dame music department faculty and guest performers present Arnold Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire” and William Walton’s “Façade.”

The Schoenberg composition is one of the most important chamber works of the 20th century, says Karen Buranskas, cellist and associate professor of music.

Buranskas and Georgine Resick, soprano and professor of music, had been thinking of performing the work for some time, with this year chosen to coincide with the centennial of the work’s composition and premiere. Walton’s “Façade” was chosen as a companion piece.

“Schoenberg is one of the great 20th-century composers,” says Buranskas. “He composes in a style called atonality. There is no key signature, no major or minor scale. All the pitches are of equal value. Another innovation is the makeup of the ensemble. Schoenberg combines woodwinds with strings and piano. It’s the forerunner of many types of chamber music that came after.”

Resick has the vocal line—an unusual part, says Buranskas. “It uses ‘Sprechstimme,’ or ‘speech-voice,’ a combination of declamatory speaking with singing. The notes are not sustained, as in a song. That’s a pretty dramatic innovation.”

The exact method of the performance of Schoenberg’s Sprechstimme is controversial, says Resick. In Schoenberg’s preface to the work, he stated that “the reciter must keep the rhythm razor sharp as in singing,” but goes on to state that “it may never remind one of singing,” although some parts, he warned, should indeed be “almost sung.” Resick has spent months meticulously learning all the annotated pitches.

The second part of the program, Walton’s “Façade,” is another interesting but very different work, says Buranskas, “much more fun and accessible.

“Façade” is a series of poems by Dame Edith Sitwell, recited over Walton’s music.

Reciters for the performance are Peter Holland, professor and associate dean for the arts, and Cheryl Turski, Wayne State University.

Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire” and Walton’s “Façade”

2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, in the Leighton Concert Hall

“Pierrot Lunaire” (1912) features the poems of Belgian symbolist and mystic Albert Giraud, while Walton’s
“Façade” sets the clever poems of Dame Edith Sitwell to an equally entertaining score.

Conducted by Maestro Tsung Yeh, with Georgine Resick, soprano, Sprechstimme; reciters Peter Holland and Cheryl Turski, and a chamber ensemble featuring Notre Dame music department faculty members John Blacklow, piano; Karen Buranskas, cello; and Tricia Park, violin/viola.

Tickets are $30, $27 for faculty, staff and senior citizens; youth and student, $15; Notre Dame students, $10. Visit performingarts.nd.edu for information or to purchase tickets, or contact the ticket office at 631-2800.