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Zemlinsky: Piano Music

Zemlinsky: Piano Music

Silke Avenhaus Piano

CD: 1
Tracks: 23
Length: 1:03:28

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Naxos
Rel. 1 Jun 2005
Recorded 2003

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Zemlinsky: Piano Music 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.

© Uncle Dave Lewis, All Music Guide
Portions of Content Provided by All Music Guide.
© 2008 All Media Guide, LLC. All Music Guide is a registered trademark of All Media Guide, LLC.
AMG
CD 1
1 1.Mit Wärme 0:58
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2 2.Flüchtig 1:22
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3 3.Träumerisch 1:48
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4 4.Sehr schnell und leicht 1:14
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5 5.Hinträumend 2:12
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6 6.Energisch 0:48
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7 7.Sehr zart 1:25
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8 8.Heiter (Walzer-Tempo) 0:52
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9 9.Ländler-Tempo 1:04
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10 10.Gut betont 1:00
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11 11.Sehr sanft 2:08
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12 Albumblatt, for piano 2:46
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13 No.1. Stimme des Abends 2:30
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14 No.2. Waldseligkeit 3:23
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15 No.3. Liebe 3:29
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16 No.4. Käferlied 1:27
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17 No.1. Archibald Douglas 4:02
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18 No.2. Der König von Thule 2:21
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19 No.3. Der Wassermann 3:14
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20 No.4. Intermezzo 4:08
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21 Menuett 1:10
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22 Skizze, for piano 2:32
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23 Ein Lichtstrahl, mime drama with piano 17:35
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