Notes and Editorial Reviews
15 moments musicaux.
Absolut Tr; Peter Schweiger (spkr)
GUILD 7322 (74:42
Text and Translation)
Don’t panic: the reading of Richard Dehmel’s
poem takes place before the performance of
, not during it. Schoenberg’s string sextet served both the angst and the heat of the piece ideally; I’ve never believed that Steuermann’s arrangement is capable of realizing such passions, although it was a notable addition to the post-Brahms piano-trio repertoire. The Absolut Trio delivers a superlative performance, playing with beauteous tone and great plasticity while reveling in the drama. The trio still lacks the full power of the sextet, but I’m delighted to have been proven 90 percent wrong.
Do you know anyone who is 110 years old? Isn’t it time we stopped calling this 1899 music “contemporary?” Words have meanings, and this one should not be appropriated as a euphemism for “music I don’t like.”
Rudolf Kelterborn (b. 1931) composed his
15 moments musicaux
for the Absolut Trio in 2006, but they could have been written in the year of his birth. These short, widely varied snapshots have a strong Webernsque quality, not only in brevity—they average about one minute in duration—but in their jewel-like scoring and sudden dynamic bursts. Variations in texture provide much of the interest, with the three instruments speaking independently as well as in ensemble. It takes a composer of imagination and power to grab and hold our attentions with such music; that Kelterborn does so proves him a worthy follower of Webern.
Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s 1961
has certain aural similarities to the Kelterborn, but it is realized on a grander scale. Music for a (imaginary?) ballet, it presents five scenes, featuring Don Quixote, Molly Bloom, and Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi. Although dotted with brief musical quotations (Strauss’s
, Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata, and something of Stockhausen that I didn’t catch), the music is Zimmermann’s typical German post-expressionism, perhaps filtered through Webern. Each section is introduced by a brief speech in German. Although I am unable to analyze the music or explain its fascination, I find this half hour to be as involving and rewarding as anything I have heard from Zimmermann, including his grand opera
. Even a two-minute section of near silence has one listening intently for the slightest variations in tempo and dynamics, as a single piano note is struck at several levels below
every few seconds.
may be considered Zimmermann’s most popular work, as there are at least three other recordings available, none of which I have heard.
One must credit the Absolut Trio (Bettina Boller, violin; Imke Frank, cello; Stefka Perifanova, piano) for cutting-edge performances that make Kelterborn and Zimmermann come alive on this disc. The Swiss label’s 2007 recordings, in Radio Studio Zurich, seat the performers in our listening rooms. Richard Dehmel’s poem appears in both the German and English notes, but the words spoken in the Zimmermann are not printed in either language.
This one’s a keeper, for sure.
FANFARE: James H. North
Works on This Recording
Présence by Bernd Alois Zimmermann
Absolut Piano Trio
Period: 20th Century
Be the first to review this title