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Reimann: Complete Piano Works / Matthew Rubenstein


Release Date: 08/28/2007 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777236   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Aribert Reimann
Performer:  Matthew Rubenstein
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

As usual, the German company cpo offers the most stimulating fare. Aribert Reimann (b. 1936) is possibly best known for his opera King Lear (championed by no less a figure than Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: a taster can be found on the DVD, The Art of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, DG 000449309). As the pianist’s own booklet notes point out, most of Riemann’s output is vocal (including no less than seven operas). The four works here are the complete works for piano, although the instrument features heavily elsewhere (two piano concertos, plus an orchestra score built around four prepared pianos for the most recent opera, The House of Bernarda Alba). Each of the four works here comes from a different decade.

Reimann is a pupil of the
Read more great Boris Blacher (the latter a woefully under-recorded composer; note that no less a figure than Furtwängler programmed the Concertante Musik, op. 10—transfers exist of a 1954 Titania Palast performance). Careful organization, therefore, is to be expected. Reimann either cares little about what is humanly possible on a piano, or (perhaps more likely) finds the tension between the demanded and the realistically realizable stimulating.

The First Sonata was composed in 1958, when Reimann was still a student, and here receives its first recording. It is not strictly dodecaphonic, but nevertheless shows the astringency of much serial music (Reimann had attended Darmstadt two years previously). Fragmentary gestures form the music’s main mode of utterance, with Blacheresque multiple-meter providing the excitement for the finale.

Rubenstein states that Spektren (1967) illustrates an important development in Reimann’s music, that of the liberation of melody from the bar-line. Reimann opts to use spatial notation in his score (Rubenstein refers, aptly, to the music of Earle Brown in connection to this). Clusters are used as aural anchor points. Clusters become more important in the 22-minute Variations of 1979. The opening is mysterious in the extreme, using quiet bass clusters in an almost menacing way. The composer has written that he wished he had called the piece “Variations en forme d’études” as this, he says, reflects the workings more accurately. A long, meandering cantilena is, in fact, a 250-note row (yes, 250!). The variations are massively difficult, and Rubenstein plays with awe-inspiring command and confidence. The theme actually recurs twice during the course of the piece. Perhaps the imposing final variation is the most impressive part of the work, wherein surprise octave gestures imply Liszt in amongst barrages of clusters. Fascinating.

Finally, Auf dem Weg (1989–1993). The title (“On the way”) refers to the fact that Reimann was “on his way” to composing the opera Das Schloss when he wrote the first piece. There are three movements in all, the second of which is a free variation of the first, while in the final movement the music seems to evaporate into the ether.

The recording, made in the Emmanuelkirche at Köln-Rondorf, is superb. The sound of clusters is remarkably visceral (sometimes feeling like a punch in the stomach)—yet the most delicate pianissimo sounds tellingly.

-- Colin Clarke, Fanfare [3-4/2008]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Piano by Aribert Reimann
Performer:  Matthew Rubenstein (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958 
Date of Recording: 05/2005 
Venue:  Emmanuelkirche, Köln-Rondorf, Germany 
Length: 12 Minutes 25 Secs. 
2.
Spektren by Aribert Reimann
Performer:  Matthew Rubenstein (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/2005 
Venue:  Emmanuelkirche, Köln-Rondorf, Germany 
Length: 11 Minutes 59 Secs. 
3.
Variations for Piano by Aribert Reimann
Performer:  Matthew Rubenstein (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/2005 
Venue:  Emmanuelkirche, Köln-Rondorf, Germany 
Length: 19 Minutes 34 Secs. 
4.
Auf dem weg: 1st movement by Aribert Reimann
Performer:  Matthew Rubenstein (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 05/2005 
Venue:  Emmanuelkirche, Köln-Rondorf, Germany 
Length: 7 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: 1989 - 1993. 
5.
Auf dem weg: 2nd movement by Aribert Reimann
Performer:  Matthew Rubenstein (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 5 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: 1989 - 1993. 
6.
Auf dem weg: 3rd movement by Aribert Reimann
Performer:  Matthew Rubenstein (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 8 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: 1989 - 1993. 

Sound Samples

Piano Sonata No. 1: I. Allegro con spirito
Piano Sonata No. 1: II. Andante
Piano Sonata No. 1: III. Presto
Spektren
Variations: Theme
Variations: Variation 1
Variations: Variation 2
Variations: Variation 3
Variations: Variation 4
Variations: Variation 5
Variations: Variation 6
Variations: Theme
Variations: Variation 7
Variations: Variation 8
Variations: Variation 9
Auf dem Weg: No. 1. Satz 1
Auf dem Weg: No. 2. Satz 2
Auf dem Weg: No. 3. Satz 3

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