Music of Tribute - Vol. 6: Alban Berg
Giacinto SCELSI (1905-1988) Poema No. 4: Passage du poète (A la mémoire d’Alban Berg) (1936-39) [8:58]
Alban BERG (1885-1935) Sonata for piano, Op. 1 (1908) [12:56]
Franghiz ALI-ZADEH (b. 1947) Sonata for piano No. 1 in memoriam Alban Berg (1970) [12:59]
Alban BERG 4 Songs, op. 2 for voice and piano (Schlafen, schlafen (Friedrich Hebbel) [2:58]; Schlafend trägt man mich [1:11]; Nun ich der Riesen stärksten überwand [0:58]; Warm die Lüfte [3:09] (Alfred Mombert))
Ross Lee FINNEY (1906-1997) Variations on a theme by Alban Berg (1952) [7:47]
Jacob GILBOA (1920-2007) Reflections on Three Chords of Alban Berg (1979) [7:07]
Alban BERG/Hans Erich APOSTEL (1901-1972) Variations from Berg’s opera Lulu for piano four hands (1935) [2:46]
Ieva Jokubaviciute (piano); Marjorie Dix (mezzo)
rec. January 2009, Music Room, Rosen House, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Katonah, New York. DDD
LABOR LAB 7086 [60:53]
Labor’s flavoursome Tribute series continues with this Berg-centric anthology. The Scelsi is the fourth and final of Poems written between 1934 and 1939. It’s an engagingly concentrated and dramatic atonal piece. It is like a confluence of Liszt’s grand rhetoric and Schoenberg’s bleakness. Berg’s op. 1 Sonata is an elaborately varied chiaroscuro of romantic moods from the romantically contemplative to the towering emotional peaks. The Baku-born Azerbaijani composer Ali-Zadeh’s Piano Sonata in Memoriam Alban Berg is in three movements. Its language has much in common with the preceding work and the lunar haunted second movement is specially memorable. Ieva Jokubaviciute is a most illuminating advocate throughout. However Marjorie Dix’s voice is rather fragile and prone to unsteadiness in the Berg songs. These four are however very engaging examples of a genre in amber between luxuriant Strauss and Pierrot Lunaire. The American composer Finney was a student of Berg’s in Vienna (1931-2). His Variations take as the subject the opening theme of the Berg Violin Concerto and make of it a gentle efflorescence in which the atonal nestles feather by feather with the tonal. The Gilboa Reflections are more adamantine and uncompromising though a gentle muse smiles over the last few pages. Apostel studied first with Schoenberg (1921) then with Berg (1925). His Variations for two pianos from the fourth episode in the Berg Lulu-Suite are very short, taut and concentrated. The second pianist here is Vladimir Valjarevic. The music is more compromising than I had expected and at time sounds rather like Percy Grainger caught on a briskly atonal day. The Finney, Gilboa and Ali-Zadeh are first recordings. The notes - which are in English only - are adeptly done by Christopher Zimmerman. As ever with Labor discs the whole product is admirably well designed. This Berg memorial is full of sustenance and also serves to introduce a formidable young pianist in her recording debut.

Rob Barnett

A tangy Berg tribute which also serves to introduce a formidable young pianist in her recording debut.