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|The Viennese School - Teachers and
Followers: Alban Berg
Alban BERG (1885-1935)
Sonata, Op. 1 (1907/9) [12:28]
Variations from ‘Lulu’ (arr. piano 4 hands, Hans Erich
Apostel) (1935) [3:03]*
Hans Erich APOSTEL (1901-1972)
Kubiniana - Ten Pieces after Drawings by Alfred Kubin,
Op. 13 (1946) [15:17]
Fritz Heinrich KLEIN (pseudonym Heautontimorumenus)
Die Maschine – Eine extonale Selbsatire, Op. 1 (1921)
Andante rubato (1929) [4:59]
Zehn extonale Klavierstücke, Op.4 (1922) [17:05]
Theodor ADORNO (1903-1969)
Three Short Piano Pieces (1934-45) [3:00]
Piano Piece (1921) [4:47]
Schleiermacher (piano); * with Markus Zugehör
rec. 15-16 November 2006, Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen.
UND GRIMM MDG 613 1475-2 [73:14]
an MDG series devoted to music by Schoenberg and pupils,
and Webern and pupils respectively, this disc continues the
sequence linking Second Viennese School composers and their
disciples. The one accepted masterwork here, Berg’s Sonata,
is given a strong, muscular performance. Mitsuko Uchida,
among my personal favourites, finds more subtlety, nuance
and beauty. By comparison, Schleiermacher occasionally sounds
a little percussive or clangorous. Maria Yudina’s Melodiya
recording – to select another comparison – could hardly be
described as beautiful, but her extraordinary performance,
bold, turbulent and highly individual, definitely belongs
in the “essential” category. Nevertheless, Schleiermacher,
a 20th-century specialist, sounds completely at
home in this repertoire.
remaining composers on the disc are all peripheral figures,
never likely to enjoy the belated elevation in status accorded
to Schreker, Korngold and Zemlinsky.
of the major composers have also proved to be great teachers
- Schoenberg and Messiaen spring to mind – and many of them
taught merely to help earn a living. So, one might well (ungenerously)
ask why Dabringhaus und Grimm did not restrict themselves
to the vastly influential Schoenberg. Perhaps the principal
justification for extending the theme to Berg’s pupils is
the historical importance of Fritz Heinrich Klein, three
of whose compositions are included on this disc.
studied with Schoenberg before becoming Berg’s pupil in 1925.
His Kubiniana grew from an original collection of
sixty miniatures based on pencil drawings published in 1943
by his close friend, the artist Alfred Kubin. These miniatures
remained unpublished, but from this reservoir of musical
material Apostel produced the ten pieces grouped as Op. 13.
Direct connections with specific drawings no longer exist,
but nevertheless these aphoristic miniatures – including
simple or grotesque marches and strange musings - do conjure
up images. They range from 33 seconds to 2:35 in duration.
I am not convinced that less means more in every case, some
pieces being diffuse rather than concentrated.
me it is Klein, who became a Berg pupil after a year with
Schoenberg, who provides the most interesting music here
after the Berg Sonata. Yet, according to Schleiermacher,
virtually nothing of Klein’s “extensive musical oeuvre” has
been published, performed or recorded. Klein prepared piano
reductions of both Wozzeck and Berg’s Chamber Concerto.
He also experimented with twelve-tone rows and twelve-tone
chords and in 1923 presented to Berg his Mutterakkord,
containing all twelve tones but also every possible interval.
Berg himself based parts of four of his works on this chord,
a borrowing which he freely acknowledged. Klein himself had
already used the Mutterakkord in the four-hand piece Die
Maschine. Its original version for chamber ensemble was
rejected by Schoenberg for his Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen.
Klein himself paid for publication of the four-hand piece – under
the pseudonym Heautontimorumenus (Self-Tormentor)
- in 1923, making this the very first twelve-note composition
to be printed. Apparently, Klein was a little uncomfortable
with this historical fact and hid behind satire, writing
on the score “Is this sublime or ridiculous?” Schleiermacher
suggests that the piece could represent either self-parody,
or gentle mocking of Schoenberg’s overbearing manner. Towards
the end of the piece, which is obsessive and really quite
fun in a mad sort of way, I was reminded – implausibly -
of Shostakovich. Most of the Ten extonal Piano
Pieces of 1922 - Klein preferred “extonal” to atonal
- seem to me a little deeper than Apostel’s miniatures, clearly
more fascinating and evocative.
best known as sociologist, philosopher and musicologist (strongly
anti-Stravinsky), wrote analyses or introductory notes to
many of Berg’s works. Even Schleiermacher, in his very informative
notes, is quick to play down his compositional achievements,
accusing him of epigonism. Of the Three Short Piano Pieces, not
grouped as such by the composer, the last, of 24 seconds’ duration,
is easily the most powerful and memorable. The Piano Piece of
1921 – omitted from the listing on the CD box – is dull.
However, collectors keen to acquire what little Adorno is
available - some works for string quartet have appeared on
CPO – will probably snap up this token offering.
sum up, I would expect this disc to appeal to avid collectors
of the Second Viennese School and all its offshoots. The
more general purchaser with adventurous taste will not find
neglected masterpieces here, but 15 minutes of Berg + 35
minutes of Klein may amount to just enough of a temptation.
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