Ives, Berg, Webern: Concord

Alexei Lubimov

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Ives, Berg, Webern: Concord Review

by Blair Sanderson

Lest anyone think modernist piano pieces all sound the same or operate on the same premises, Alexei Lubimov has chosen a program of key works that are not only quite varied in style, content, and expression, but are distinctive because of their originality. Charles Ives' iconoclastic Piano Sonata No. 2, "Concord, Mass., 1840-60," is an excellent example of his method of freely juxtaposing chaotic dissonances and jagged rhythms with raucous quotations of popular melodies and hymn tunes, in a spirit of rugged American individualism. To contrast this sonata, Lubimov has selected works from the Second Viennese School, to demonstrate the approaches taken by Anton Webern in his dodecaphonic Piano Variations, and Alban Berg in his loosely atonal Piano Sonata, Op. 1. Where Webern strives for a delicate balance of pitches and a purity of ideas, Berg's music is intensely emotional, languid, and unsettled, and these characteristics show that their approaches diverged as much from each other as they did from Ives. Lubimov's playing is sensitive and sympathetic, and his clear interpretations make this album something of a revelation, even for those who know these pieces well. To be sure, they are still challenging today, many decades after they were written, and they are enjoyed most by well-informed and adventurous listeners. Lubimov provides a fine introduction to these landmarks of modernism, and this exceptional disc from Zig Zag Territoires and Outhere Music is highly recommended.

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