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SACD Review

Arnold Schoenberg

The Complete Piano Music

  • 3 Pieces (1894)
  • 3 Pieces, Op. 11 (1908)
  • 6 Pieces "Little", Op. 19 (1911)
  • 5 Pieces, Op. 23 (1923)
  • Suite, Op. 25 (1925)
  • Piece, Op. 33a (1929)
  • Piece, Op. 33b (1932)
Hardy Rittner, piano
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG9041593-6 63m Hybrid Multichannel SACD
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This MD&G issue dedicated to the output of Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) is the second in almost as many months, and this latest instalment focuses on the complete piano oeuvre, something of an oddity, as Schoenberg's keyboard works are rarely collected on one one disc, and some piece or another was often included with more accessible stuff by other composers.

However this does not mean that these pieces do not make for stimulating listening. Indeed they cover almost 37 years of Schoenberg's career and one can dissect them into three different styles; the late romantic, neo-classical and avant-garde. Most of these works had considerable influence on his famous contemporaries Alban Berg and Anton Webern, and modern piano music owes much to the compositional audacity of this Viennese master.

The young German pianist Hardy Rittner performs quite brilliantly and his prodigious knowledge of these creations is displayed with almost effortless ease. What is so interesting is the fact that Rittner decided to play this programme on a Johann Baptist-Streicher and Sohn piano from 1870 and a Steinway D Grand Piano from 1901, thus giving the music a more authentic sound. A marvelous and timely advert for some uncompromising 20th century keyboard repertoire in excellent sound.

Copyright © 2010, Gerald Fenech