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Giselher KLEBE (b.1925)
Piano Music 2

Poèma drammatico for two pianos and orchestra Op.130 (1999) *
Soggetto cavato primo Op.122
Soggetto cavato secundo Op. 129
Widmungen Op.115 +
Zornige Lieder ohne Worte Op.118 (1994) #
Meine Enkelkinder und ich: Mira, Maya, Tim Christian and ihr Opa, Op.140 (2002) #
Thema und 39 Variationen Op.142 #
Silke-Thora Matthies and Christian Köhn (pianos) and
SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg/Peter Ruzicka*
Christian Köhn (piano)+
Silke-Thora Matthies (piano)#
Recorded Konzerthaus Freiburg, April 2002 (Poèma drammatico) and Rudolf-Oetker-Halle Bielefeld, September 2003 (remainder)
MARCO POLO 8.225290 [75.00]


Klebe was born in Mannheim in 1925 and studied with Kurt von Wolfurt, Josef Rufer and later with Boris Blacher. His Op 1, a Divertimento, was first performed in 1947, and Kliebe formed a professional friendship with Wolfgang Fortner and had works premiered at Darmstadt. As an academic Klebe was a senior composition lecturer in Detmold and was also president of the Berlin Academy of Arts. This is the second of Marco Polo’s series dedicated to the Klebe piano music.

Sometimes elliptical, sometimes aggressive but opening with portentous gravity the Poèma drammatico is a homage to Verdi and embeds quotations from such as Otello, Macbeth and Il trovatore into the score. This is pungent and astringent, never ascetic, and carries a charge of forbidding abruptness, from which the quotations emerge not as impositions but as part of the syntax. Certainly not an easy work to like, despite the obvious veneration Klebe feels for Verdi, and one that spins on its darker axis. Soggetto cavato primo and secundo have variously propulsive energy and dense textures. Klebe wrote Widmungen for composer and musician friends – the word means Dedications. That for Christiane and Axel Eggers (No.2) – is elliptical and still, No.3 is considered, thoughtful and concentrated (for the 60th birthday of Karl Schumann) whilst No.4 for Aribert Riemann is much more animated. A fine evocative set well played by Christian Köhn.

The Angry Songs without Words (Zornige Lieder ohne Worte – poor Mendelssohn) are titled Anger, Loneliness, Sorrow, Revolt and Secret Message. These are precisely and imaginatively calibrated miniatures – angular, full of forlorn spaces, cryptically repetitive; allusive and clever. The works for the composer’s grandchildren are altogether lighter and the Variations are logical and wide ranging.

The notes are by the composer and the performances are tangibly engaged.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Hubert Culot

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