With this disc, Austrian pianist Hardy Rittner takes time out from his series of recordings of the complete piano music of Brahms to record the complete piano music of Schoenberg. The stylistic leap is not as far as some might think, because while Schoenberg went on to "invent" atonal and serial music, he was born into late Romanticism, and his earliest music is clearly written in that style. This stylistic development is demonstrated in Schoenberg's seven published works for solo piano: the atonal Opp. 11 and 19, plus the serial Opp. 23, 25, and 33a and 33b, as well as his early Drei Klavierstücke. No matter what the style, Rittner makes a strong case for each work. His Opp. 11 and 19 have the freedom, intensity, and bone-deep angst they need. His Opp. 23, 25, 33a, and 33b have the necessary rigor, energy, and quirky emotional elusiveness, and the early piano works are played with the requisite sentimentality, tenderness, and almost tangible sense of loss. As with the Brahms recordings, Rittner uses pianos from the time to ensure the proper sound quality, and as always, his technique is masterful and essentially flawless. There have been several excellent recordings of Schoenberg's piano music before -- those by Maurizio Pollini and Paul Jacobs immediately spring to mind -- but Rittner's recording is well worth hearing by anyone who admires this music.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Drei Klavierstücke, Op. 11|
|Sechs kleine Klavierstücke, Op. 19|
|Funf Klavierstücke, Op. 23|
|Suite, Op. 25|