obsessional world it describes. Thisnmakes a performance of Pierrot Lunairena curious and often frustrating eventnbecause coexisting with its nakednpathology is an exciting musical experience.nStill evident at this time isnSchoenberg’s talent for lyrical melody,napparent in his early works (Gurre-nLieder). Half-strangled in Pierrot bynthe dramatic but musically limitednSprechstimme vocalization, and, in hisnserial pieces, diffused and scattered onnan aesthetic treadmill, this lyrical talentnis nevertheless one of Schoenberg’snmost profound qualities. It may help tonexplain how he imagined he could inventna music exclusively composed ofnmelody, forsaking the support ofnharmony.nEvery element of Pierrot is masterfullyncrafted: Each moment is a gem,nperfectly formed and cut with a thousandnfacets. As Schoenberg’s music disintegratednharmonically it also becamenincreasingly miniaturized, especially hisnshort piano pieces. Some as short asntwenty seconds, these pieces are likencrystallized symphonies. This sort ofnmusic demands a different way of listening.nIt may explain why Schoenbergntends to command a greater respectnamong musicians, who have the advantagenof being able to play the musicnover and over again, than among thenlay audience, for whom its glittering intricaciesnmay not be as accessible. Anotherndifficulty is that Schoenberg nevernsolved the problem of writing in annextended form. At times he is brilliant,nbut, strung together, these momentsn(sparkling as they are) lose their variety.nA long series of startling events soonnbecomes only a generalized feeling ofndisturbance. Pierrot, after a half-hournor so, begins to feel yawningly monochromatic.nThe Orchestra of Our Time playednwell, and Maureen McNalley talked/nsang her Sprechstimme reciter’s rolenwith a fine sense of the dramatic, thenmost important element in keeping thisnpiece alive. The lighting was cabaret-nlike, therefore appropriate, and madeneffective use of limited resources. PianistnDwight Peltzer milked the lush, romanticntexture of Berg’s Piano SonatanOpus 1 for everything it had.nAs I wound my way up the Guggenheim’snspiral ramp, past the prints andndrawings that looked like set designs fornThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, I wasnstruck by the programmatic similaritynbetween Erich Meckel’s “Spring in Flanders”nand one of the poems in PierrotnLunaire. In “Enthauptung” (“Beheading”)nPierrot, hallucinating as usual,nvisualizes the crescent moon as a scimitar’snblade and fears it will decapitatenhim. Heckel’s “Spring” is an early springnbefore life returns to nature. A lone,nbundled peasant makes his way up ancountry road, the trees on either sidentwisted and crippled, the fields floodednin an early thaw. The sky is one of thosencontradictory skies that is at the samentime both lowering and bright, with anblue almost malign in its intensity. Itnappears hard and brittle, composed ofnthe splinters of fractured glass. Thenpeasant stoops beneath this blue horrornthat threatens at any moment to cut himnto pieces. Why, for these expressionists,nis nature so hostile.”nIf one were sentimentally inclinednone might suggest that nature was rebellingnagainst the outrageous uses tonwhich it was being put. The expressionistsnhad little interest in the objectivenworld as such; it existed only to give ankind of form to their emoting. Even innthe landscapes, very little of nature sur­nnnvives expressionist handling; all that remainsnvisible is the vague contour ofnthe natural world, buried under severalnlayers of expressive paint.nIf they’ve interred nature, it’s becausento them it is a dead thing; they can nonlonger find meaning there. Their inspirationnsprings full-grown from the claustrophobicnrecesses of the mind; it is thenproduct of an unconscious that has beennartificially sealed off from the fresh airnof objective reality to see what lurid,nanaerobic growth will result.nLooking at the fiery surfaces of somenof these paintings, one is tempted toncompare them to those of van Gogh.nVan Gogh’s is a world of fire, yet it’s anfire that never consumes. His vision isnalways mediated through the object ofncontemplation. A flower may be a visionnof heaven or of hell, but it is alwaysna flower. There is no mediation in expressionism—onlynimposition. Becausenthe world of the expressionists is darknand dead, they have to set it on fire tonbring it alive.nKandinsky appears in the show, as Insuppose is historically appropriate innthat, for polemical purposes at least, henwas allied with the movement. But innno real sense is Kandinsky German (henwas born in Russia and only moved tonGermany in his thirtieth year, and thennnot permanently), and no artist could benmore different in spirit. Even at hisnmost abstract, Kandinsky’s painting isninformed by his love of the naturalnworld. Perhaps as gifted a writer as henwas a painter, he expresses that primarynaffirmation in this eloquent passagenfrom his reminiscences:nLike all children, I was passionatelynfond of ‘riding.’ For this purpose ourncoachman used to cut spiral stripesnon thin branches, peeling both layersnof bark off the first stripe and onlynthe top layer from the second, so thatnmy horse usually consisted of threencolors: the brownish yellow of thenouter bark (which I did not like andnwould gladly have seen replaced bynanother), the juicy green of the underlayernof the bark (which I especiallyn•37nJanuary/Febrttary 1981n