Symphony No. 2, op. 12, third movement
Ernst Krenek (1900 - 1991)
We start here right in the third movement of the Second Symphony:
The first minute of this music could serve as the opening credits for which movie genre? Which figures appear in it and what images does it evoke in you?
The only twenty-three-year-old Krenek paints here with dark colors and creates gloomy, eerie worlds of sound: with the softest and lowest string tones, the violoncellos sneak into the movement as if lost, following no particular direction. The violas join the cellos’ search with their own motif, and the other instrument groups gradually enter – the intensity of the “search” strengthens, however it does not find a musical indicator, for example in the form of a recurring theme.
When the Symphony was premiered in Kassel in 1923, the audience’s reaction was very mixed: it oscillated between fascination for the unfathomableness in this music and total irritation. The work went down in history as one in a series of twentieth-century musical scandals.
Krenek dedicated the music to his then wife Anna Mahler, the daughter of Gustav and Alma Mahler.