The evolution of George Rochberg – from demanding, serial or serial-inspired music, to a return to tonality sometimes associated with an “anything goes” attitude – is one that mirrors the evolution of contemporary music in the last 30 years of the 20th century, and one that I’m not excessively sympathetic with. I’ve posted a number of reviews of works of Rochberg on Amazon.com over the years that I need to transfer over hear, some very positive, some very negative and even with a measure of incredulousness.
His Serenata d’estate, on Spectrum: New American Music. Works of Stefan Wolpe, Seymour Shifrin, George Rochberg, Milton Babbitt, Richard Wernick. The Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, Arthur Weisberg. Elektra Nonesuch 9 79222-2 (1990), is an early work and it puts the lie to Rochberg’s later contention that serial music could not be expressive. It is a very poetic piece, hushed and subtle, mysterious and evocative, with a bird-like flute and a gossamer instrumentation reminiscent of Schoenberg’s Serenade. This is, really, the best of Schoenberg’s influence.