What a difference 20 years makes

Young Girls at the PianoMy edition of Arnold Schönberg’s Sechs kleine Klavierstücke op. 19 features an odd choice for a cover image – Renoir’s Young Girls at the Piano. And I find it odd not just because it’s anachronistic, having been painted 20 or so years before Schönberg composed the op. 19, but because of the attitude and expressions of the young girls. You can almost imagine that the pre-serialist atonal work has been transported back two decades, and these ingenues were expecting something charming from someone like that young impressionist upstart Debussy, and while they’re willing to give it a good old drawingroom try, things just aren’t going the way they’d expected. “That can’t be right, Yvette,” the older one seems to say. “But that’s what he’s written, Brigitte! A flat! C’est vrai!”