Steffen Schleiermacher

The Viennese School - Teachers and Followers: Arnold Schönberg, Vol. 2

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This release by pianist Steffen Schleiermacher is one of a pair devoted to Arnold Schoenberg in an intriguing larger series exploring the ongoing influence of the major composers of the early 20th century. Schoenberg, in addition to being one of the most celebrated composers of the first half of the 20th centuries, was also one of its great teachers, with a pedagogical career that involved long periods of activity in Vienna, Berlin, and Los Angeles. The present recording covers the last two of these, and the composers involved were for the most part not followers of the twelve-tone method that developed in Vienna. Several of them are a surprise to see; it's easy to forget that Lou Harrison, best known for his experiments in Asian music, the 1930s populist Marc Blitzstein, and the anti-systematic John Cage were Schoenberg's students, but they were. What's more, their experiments make sense when heard here beside the efforts of some of Schoenberg's European pupils. Schoenberg by no means tried to hold his students to his own methods, and although he was probably a bit confounded by Cage and Blitzstein (he expressed admiration for Harrison's almost static Sarabande) he may have recognized them as fellow experimentalists. The single quality most of these composers seem to have taken from Schoenberg and applied to their own styles was the concision of pieces like the Klavierstücke, Op. 33, heard at the beginning of the program. Russian composer Natalia Prawossudowitsch actually composed her somewhat jazz-like Primitivi, Op. 17, before beginning studies with Schoenberg, but they're worth a revival, and they make an interesting pair with the brash sonata by Blitzstein, a single-movement work made up of discrete chunks. Erich Schmid's Widmungen, Op. 9, and Leon Kirchner's Little Suite come closest to Schoenberg's own idiom. Not everything here is compelling, but this beautifully recorded album will contain new things even for serious students of Schoenberg and his world, and Schleiermacher deserves credit for staying on top of some very divergent styles and finding the thread that connects these works.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Klavierstück, Op. 33
1 2:35
2 4:37
Primitivi, Op. 17
3 0:30
4 0:52
5 0:50
6 2:12
7 0:40
8 0:52
9 1:38
10 0:42
11 1:32
12 1:03
13 0:19
14 1:18
15 0:57
Suite No. 3
16 2:40
17 2:20
18 4:44
19 1:30
20 2:13
21 1:47
22 0:17
23 0:48
24 0:26
25 0:14
26 0:43
27 0:16
28 0:59
Widmungen - fünf kleine Klavier-stücke, Op. 9
29 2:21
30 2:30
31 0:46
32 2:09
33 2:02
Little Suite
34 0:47
35 1:36
36 0:42
37 0:42
38 1:25
Prelude & Sarabande
39 5:03
40 6:02
blue highlight denotes track pick