Zemlinsky: Piano Music

Zemlinsky: Piano Music

by Silke Avenhaus
     
 

It seems it is hard to discuss the music of Alexander Zemlinsky without reference to his much more famous, and notorious, brother-in-law Arnold Schoenberg, arguably the "scariest name in classical music." With Zemlinsky: Piano Music, Naxos provides the first recorded survey of Zemlinsky's output for piano, none of it written after 1901 and not in the leastSee more details below

Overview

It seems it is hard to discuss the music of Alexander Zemlinsky without reference to his much more famous, and notorious, brother-in-law Arnold Schoenberg, arguably the "scariest name in classical music." With Zemlinsky: Piano Music, Naxos provides the first recorded survey of Zemlinsky's output for piano, none of it written after 1901 and not in the least "scary." Zemlinsky reserved his compositional activity for piano to the first three decades of his life; afterwards came operas, symphonies, chamber music, and songs, but no piano music. Much of it is similar to Brahms' late solo piano music, and as that was still "new music" in the 1890s (and Brahms was still writing it), Zemlinsky's piano pieces would hardly have been viewed as a throwback to anything when they were new. Listeners coming to these works seeking foreshadowing of expressionist trends would be altogether looking in the wrong place. On the other hand, Zemlinsky seems to be more comfortable and accomplished working in the shadow of Brahms than does Schoenberg in his furtive, early shreds of piano music. Schoenberg decidedly saved the best of his keyboard writing for his mature period. Of these works, the "Ländliche Tänze, Op. 1," and the music to the pantomime "Ein Lichtstrahl" are the most engaging. "Ländliche Tänze, Op. 1," features 11 fascinating miniatures that possess the qualities of deathless charm and simplicity, guided by an authoritative and assured hand. Annotator Richard Whitehouse states that the "Vier Fantasien" is Zemlinsky's "most imposing piano work," but these ears are more readily drawn toward "Ein Lichtstrahl," with its silent movie-like pictorial and narrative elements. What makes these mega-obscure pieces shine brightest, though, is the pianist, Silke Avenhaus. It would've been sufficient to read these works through dutifully, as they are practically unknown. Avenhaus, in her first recorded outing as a soloist, does not do so; she goes the extra mile to squeeze the last drop of expressiveness from every page of Zemlinsky's music. Her profound sense of touch, sensitivity, and poetry make what might have been a run-of-the-mill "hole plugger" in the classical repertoire into something that is worth experiencing, rather than just suitable for study purposes. Congratulations to Naxos for presenting a pianist of star quality for the first time in literature that closes a gap in the recorded worklist of a key Western composer. Moreover, please, let us have some more from Silke Avenhaus.

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/21/2005
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313233120
catalogNumber:
8557331
Rank:
219350

Tracks

  1. Ländliche Tänze (Rustic Dance), for piano, Op. 1  - Silke Avenhaus  - Alexander von Zemlinsky
  2. Albumblatt, for piano  - Silke Avenhaus  - Alexander von Zemlinsky
  3. Fantasies on Poems of Richard Dehmel, for piano, Op. 9  - Silke Avenhaus  - Alexander von Zemlinsky
  4. Ballades (4), for piano  - Silke Avenhaus  - Alexander von Zemlinsky
  5. Ein Tanzpoem (Das Gläserne Herz), ballet (Act II from incomplete ballet "The Triumph of Time"): Menuett  - Silke Avenhaus  - Alexander von Zemlinsky
  6. Skizze, for piano  - Silke Avenhaus  - Alexander von Zemlinsky
  7. Ein Lichtstrahl, mime drama with piano  - Silke Avenhaus  - Alexander von Zemlinsky

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