Isabelle Faust & Friends

Berg / Webern / Schönberg / Brahms

Three men in coats in front of a canal, the middle one looks into the camera

Name this band: Composers Erwin Stein, Arnold Schönberg and Anton Webern taking a walk, 1914 © Arnold Schönberg Center, Vienna

Arnold Schönberg’s “Chamber Symphony” famously once led to a riot in Vienna, but now the only virtuoso handiwork happens on stage when violinist Isabelle Faust tackles this challenging and rarely performed piece. In this evening of chamber music, some of the great works of early new music lead into the melancholy of Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet. 

Requiring outstanding musical precision, Arnold Schönberg’s first Chamber Symphony from 1906 was his “problem child: one of my very best pieces, but until now (because of poor performances!!) not properly understood.” This heartfelt sigh prompted Anton Webern to produce his quintet adaptation: a splendid addition to the repertoire in which Webern was able to prove his skills as an extremly sympathetic arranger. Decades later, with “Phantasy”, Schönberg delivered a true virtuoso piece that presents any violinist with severe challenges including doublestopping extremely large intervals, glissandi and complex tremolo effects and chord arpeggios: a work that is literally in the best possible hands with Isabelle Faust, as are all the other items in the programme with Julia Gallego (flute), Pascal Moragues (clarinet), Meesun and William Coleman (violin and viola), Julia Hagen (cello) and Florent Boffard (piano). The programme also includes the adagio from Alban Berg’s Chamber Concerto (in which Schönberg, Webern and Berg all “appear” with a theme of their own) and Webern’s Satz for String Trio, composed to mark Schönberg’s 50th birthday and published posthumously, in which the names “Schönberg”, “Berg” and “Webern” – encrypted in the letters of notes – are turned into music. The evening is rounded off with the Clarinet Quintet by Johannes Brahms, a melancholy work that bids the world farewell, and has been an undisputed favourite by this composer ever since its first performance.  

The performance of Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet corresponds with the Berliner Philharmoniker’s chamber music afternoon event on 15 September 2024: the programme includes the benchmark clarinet quintet by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Wolfgang Rihm’s response and continuation of this important clarinet quintet tradition.


Alban Berg (1885 – 1935)
Adagio from Chamber Concerto (1924)
Version for clarinet, violin and piano 

Anton Webern (1883 – 1945)
Satz for String Trio op. Posthum “calmly flowing“ (1925)

Arnold Schönberg (1874 – 1951)
Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E major op. 9 (1906)
In the version for violin, flute, clarinet, violoncello and piano
by Anton Webern (1923)

Phantasy for Violin with piano accompaniment op. 47 (1949)

Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897)
Clarinet Quintet in B minor op. 115 (1891)


Isabelle Faust violin
Julia Hagen 
Florent Boffard piano
Meesun Coleman violin
William Coleman viola
Pascal Moragues clarinet
Júlia Gállego 

An event by Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin