Berg, Apostel, F Klein and Adorno

COMPOSERS: Apostel,Berg,F Klein and Adorno
LABELS: MDG
ALBUM TITLE: Berg: Teachers and followers
WORKS: Piano works
PERFORMER: Steffen Schleiermacher (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 6131475-2
Steffen Schleiermacher’s cannily programmed series on Teachers and Followers of the Second Viennese School continues with Alban Berg and his pupils. Berg himself is represented by a highly impressive and deeply-felt performance of the Op. 1 Sonata and also the Variations from Lulu in an effective four‑hand arrangement by his pupil Hans Erich Apostel. Schleiermacher may be less lyrical in his approach to the Sonata than Peter Hill on Naxos; he lacks the nail‑biting intensity of Glenn Gould’s 1958 recital on Sony or the refinement of Barenboim (DG). But his turbulent, highly emotional reading is superbly phrased and projected. Rather than playing up the late-Romantic elements in Berg’s language, he instead brings out the contrapuntal nature of his thought, making us feel the strength of the individual lines. Apostel himself is represented by his 1946 Kubiniana, ten pithy and sharply-characterised pieces after drawings by the caricaturist Alfred Kubin. But the real discovery here is Fritz Heinrich Klein (1892-1972), who had been experimenting with 12-note techniques before Berg himself, and wrote a series of what he termed ‘extonal’ works starting with Die Maschine (1921), which includes the ‘all-interval’ row Berg used (with acknowledgement) in his Chamber Concerto. Die Maschine, which Klein published under the pseudonym ‘Heautontimorumenus’ (‘Self-Tormenter’), is an extraordinary effusion resembling at different points Ives, Satie and Shostakovich.His 10 extonale Klavierstücke of 1922 are equally fascinating and unclassifiable, if more epigrammatic. Beside these astonishing works, three short pieces by Theodor W Adorno seem more like demonstrations of the fact that the young philosopher could indeed write music than any evidence of major talent.

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