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Aribert REIMANN (b.1936)
Sonata for Piano (1958) [12:19]
Spektren (1967) [11:47]
Variations for Piano (1979) [22:05]
Matthew Rubenstein (piano)
rec. 2008. DDD
CPO 777236-2 [69:00] 
Experience Classicsonline

Reimann has the voice and the piano as twin lodestones. For the voice there is a positive deluge of works: seven operas, song-cycles of every generic type and fifteen large pieces for voice and orchestra. As to the piano it figures decisively in his lieder, both his own and those in which he figured as accompanist.

The Erste Sonate is a student work dating from his years at Berlin's Hochschule. Boris Blacher, his teacher, is said to be an influence. It's a three movement piece in which Reimann treads the line between dissonance and consonance. Angular discontinuity is usually the order of the day spliced with Stravinskian ragtime and driving railroad rhythms. The 1967 Spektren expunges for the most part the melodic element although tender and impressionistic raindrop fables do intervene from time to time. That work was from the heyday of the avant-garde. In 1979 Reimann wrote the twelve-segment Variations. It comprises three themes, each with its own set of three variants. The music clangs and glints either dramatically or in contemplative absorption. Hatched through this activity are rhythmic itches and convulsions like some wildly unpredictable clockwork. Variation V (tr. 11) has the stained glass shatter of Messiaen and many of these Variations are truly explosive. The Variations speak of the deracination of music - a great upheaval. Auf dem weg is in three sections in a language even more fractured and dissonant than the other pieces and in the last of the three segments the pianist resorts to augmented playing techniques: plucking and dampening the strings, reaching inside the instrument while also keeping command of the keys. 

There are notes from Matthew Rubenstein and a brief contribution from the composer in which he reminds us that the sonata is here receiving its recording premiere. 

This is tough music strongly presented.

Rob Barnett




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