Complete Works for Piano
Eduardo Fernández (piano)
BIS BIS-2495 72:26 mins
Best known for the shattering modernism of his opera Die Soldaten, once considered almost unstageable, Bernd Alois Zimmermann (1918-70) had a bleak view of the world that contributed to his eventual suicide. But there was another side to his music, exemplified in the biting clarity of such works as the violin and trumpet concertos. Much of his sizeable output remains obscure, and this new release exploring his piano music is both admirable and absorbing thanks to the formidable technique and command of pianistic colour that Eduardo Fernández, one of the finest Spanish pianists of the new generation, brings to the enterprise.
The first of Zimmermann’s Drei frühe Klavierstücke (dating from World War II) is written in the lilting siciliano style favoured by Hindemith, very much the soundworld from which the young composer sprung. He could also write a fugue or show feeling for children’s songs, as the attractive 1946 Capriccio reveals. Also dating from 1946, the five pieces comprising Extemporale begin with a chorale-like prelude that further signals his place in German tradition, though the penultimate piece, a Bolero, opens innocently enough before springing surprises. While still paying tribute to old forms in his etudes gathered in the two books entitled Enchiridion I and II (1949 and 1951), Zimmermann pushed his style forward, completing this transformation by the time of Konfigurationen, his eight miniatures from 1956. If not exactly a missing link between the piano music of Schoenberg and Stockhausen, these works nevertheless add up to an extremely rewarding disc.