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Solitary / Jacob Greenberg

Kurtag / Greenberg
Release Date: 05/11/2010 
Label:  New Focus   Catalog #: 110   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Arnold SchoenbergJacob GreenbergRobert SchumannWolfgang Amadeus Mozart,   ... 
Performer:  Jacob Greenberg
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 54 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SOLITARY Jacob Greenberg (pn) NEW FOCUS 110 (54:06)

KURTÁG Játékok: (Lovely Greetings to Grete Spinnrad); Bell Fanfare for Sándor Veress; Capriccioso-luminoso (For Igor Stravinsky’s 80th Birthday); Flowers We Are …; The Little Squall; … Flowers Also the Stars …; An Apocryphal Hymn; The Girl with the Flaxen Hair—Enraged. Fanfares. Farewell to Pál Kadosa. MOZART Rondo in a, Read more class="ARIAL12">K. 511. SCHOENBERG Suite, op. 25. GREENBERG Lied ohne Worte nach Rilke. SCHUMANN Gesänge der Frühe, op. 133

The title of this disc, Solitary , refers to an aspect of a composer’s journey (for composers do tread a lonely path, in general) expressed on an instrument that itself is more solitary than most, the piano.

The Kurtág pieces (the overall title means “games”) are taken from a whole series of miniatures. There are eight books of Játékok . For many of the pieces, blink and they are gone (witness the cat-and-mouse antics of the 28-second Capriccioso luminoso ) and yet they seem to encapsulate (and hint at) so much in their brief spans. Some are just puzzling (the repeated descents of The Little Squall ), some amusing, while some (… Flowers Also the Stars …) seem to contain the entire macrocosm in their (in this case 29-second) microcosm. There is complete gentleness here ( An Apocryphal Hymn ), a peace amid all the quirkiness and, yes, downright craziness ( The Girl with the Flaxen Hair—Enraged is positively hilarious). Next to this, Greenberg programs the heartbreaking A-Minor Rondo by Mozart, which he plays with tremendous poignancy and poise.

Schoenberg was not a solitary voice in the music of his time but he was certainly a leader and great pedagogue. His Suite of 1923 is one of the first purely dodecaphonic works and is a miracle of concision. Greenberg finds the dancing rhythms and internal dynamics of the various movements, putting him on equal footing with Pollini’s benchmark DG recording. Greenberg’s own Lied ohne Worte nach Rilke (2009) has a German title, according to the composer, that underlines its debt to Mendelssohn. The actual melodic material was generated by Greenberg reciting poetry into a tape recorder and then transcribing the pitches and rhythms. The result is decidedly pointillist. There is an element of both the solitary and the game here, too, gathering together the ideas of the disc. Greenberg tells a story of his own solitude of his youth in the booklet notes of how he sang on his own while throwing a tennis ball against a wall as counterpoint—games and solitude conspiring to produce creativity.

Schumann’s late Gesänge der Frühe of 1853 is little known, and deserves wider currency. Written shortly before the composer’s final breakdown, the five movements encompass desperation and hope. This is a haunting way to end a most stimulating disc. Greenberg captures the spirit of each of the movements of this set brilliantly. The hunting fanfares of the third movement seem to be heard through a veil of tears, while the quiet chords of the final piece seem to carry a superhuman burden. Remarkable music.

FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

Suite for Piano, Op. 25 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Jacob Greenberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921-1923; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Sweeney Auditorium, Smith College, North 
Length: 14 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Lied ohne Worte nach Rilke, for piano by Jacob Greenberg
Performer:  Jacob Greenberg (Piano)
Written: 2009 
Date of Recording: 01/04/2010 
Venue:  Sweeney Auditorium, Smith College, North 
Length: 4 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Gesänge der Frühe (5) for Piano, Op. 133 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Jacob Greenberg (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Germany 
Venue:  Sweeney Auditorium, Smith College, North 
Length: 12 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Rondo for Piano no 3 in A minor, K 511 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Jacob Greenberg (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/10/2009 
Venue:  Sweeney Auditorium, Smith College, North 
Length: 10 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Játékok, Vol. 5, for piano by György Kurtág
Performer:  Jacob Greenberg (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1978-1993 
Length: 7 Minutes 50 Secs. 

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