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Reinhard Oppel: Piano Music, Vol. 1

Oppel / Kang
Release Date: 08/09/2011 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 3   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Reinhard Oppel
Performer:  Heejung Kang
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

OPPEL Kleine Suite. Piano Sonata No. 1. 5 Stücke. Waltzes, Set 2 Heejung Kang (pn) TOCCATA 0003 (61:29)

Since World War II, a good portion of the music and some of the analytical works of Reinhard Oppel (1878–1941) had remained hidden in a trunk beneath the floor of a garden house near Halle, Germany. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990, Reinhard’s son, Kurt, returned to East Germany to retrieve these works. He brought them back to Frankfurt with him, before Read more eventually bequeathing many of these lost treasures—the Oppel Collection, as they are now known—to the University of North Texas in 1999. The works on the current recital all date from the 1910s. This music, though described as “heartwarming, Dvo?ákian piano music” on the recording back, reminds me a bit more of Max Reger in its constant wandering chromatic movement, almost meandering and exploring, rather then having a definitive idea as to where it will eventually wind up. This is certainly not meant as a negative quality—Reger holds a personal fascination for me, especially his larger works like the Bach Variations, op. 81, or the Psalm 100, op. 106. Oppel’s music, on its own, possesses a tinge of melancholy that was not uncommon for many Germanic composers at this time. The third movement of the Piano Sonata provides a very fine example of exuberance in the outer sections, with an introspective middle section—one that forces the listener to try to penetrate it to its center. The contrast here is palpable. The sonata is the major work on this recital. Similar to Marc-André Hamelin’s description of Medtner’s music, these compositions require repeated listening for them to make the kind of effect of which in the right hands they are capable. It is well worth the investigation of those interested and talented enough to pull it off, but one should be aware of the fact that these pieces need to be lived with to be fully appreciated. The other works on the recital are minor in comparison, fun at times (one thinks of the third of the waltzes or the Presto or Finale movements of the suite), sentimental at others (listen to the first of the Fünf Stücke or the first of the waltzes). Throughout the recital Heejung Kang is an excellent and engaging guide in this music. One can hear that she not only believes in its worth, but loves it for what it has to say. She easily handles the music’s difficulties, allowing the listener to revel in its inherent intricacies. Though this recital will not be to everyone’s taste—and please don’t let the comparison with Reger frighten you off!—it should be heard and judged for oneself. Recommended then, especially for collectors of rare piano music or any lovers of German music of the early 20th century.

FANFARE: Scott Noriega
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Works on This Recording

Kleine Suite, for piano, Op. 26 by Reinhard Oppel
Performer:  Heejung Kang (Piano)
Written: 1913 
Venue:  Hurstwood Farm Piano Studios, Kent, Engl 
Length: 12 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Piano Sonata No. 1 in G minor by Reinhard Oppel
Performer:  Heejung Kang (Piano)
Written: 1919 
Venue:  Hurstwood Farm Piano Studios, Kent, Engl 
Length: 28 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Pieces (5), for piano, Op. 21 by Reinhard Oppel
Performer:  Heejung Kang (Piano)
Written: 1913 
Venue:  Hurstwood Farm Piano Studios, Kent, Engl 
Length: 15 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Waltzes (3) for piano, Set 2 by Reinhard Oppel
Performer:  Heejung Kang (Piano)
Written: 1932 
Venue:  Hurstwood Farm Piano Studios, Kent, Engl 
Length: 4 Minutes 8 Secs. 

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