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Schoenberg: Piano Music / Paul Jacobs

Release Date: 05/07/1992 
Label:  Nonesuch   Catalog #: 71309   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Paul Jacobs
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Thanks to ArkivMusic.com’s on-demand reprint program, the late Paul Jacobs’ 1975 Nonesuch release devoted to Arnold Schoenberg’s complete solo piano music with opus numbers is available again on CD. Jacobs’ Schoenberg interpretations set new standards for pianistic finesse, textual accuracy, and stylistic perception, and they still remain a reference point, even when considering distinct later editions from Maurizio Pollini, Peter Serkin, Peter Hill, and Herbert Henck. Although I have never heard Jacobs’ earlier Schoenberg cycle (recorded in the 1950s for Vega), the pianist decisively preferred his Nonesuch remake. Time and again Jacobs’ attention to detail borders on revelatory.

For example, he clarifies Op. 11 No. 1’s
Read more thematic threads so that they don’t get lost within the surrounding material’s intricacy. His expansive, long-lined treatment of the central Sehr langsam piece differs from Pollini’s considerably faster and sterner reading. In contrast to Glenn Gould’s hyper-detailed, pulled-about way with the six little Op. 19 pieces, Jacobs takes Schoenberg’s directive for tenderness on faith. The Suite for Piano’s six movements also stand out for the way Jacobs manages to honor the composer’s phrasings, accents, and balance indications without being inflexible. Notice, for example, the lovely lilting quality of the Gavotte’s repeated notes that many pianists simply shoot off like pellets from a BB gun.

Jacobs’ original booklet notes (reprinted here) discuss the ambiguities and occasional contradictions of Schoenberg’s tempo indications and metronome markings, notably in Op. 23, where the pianist’s choices are borne out of good musical sense. As a result, the fourth piece’s clipped chords acquire a gentle shimmer rather than a percussive patina, while the final Waltz boasts more charm and breathing room than other pianists convey. Although Jacobs writes about the jazzy qualities of Op. 33b, I actually hear more jazz in its companion piece, Op. 33a, especially in how the middle-register chords are voiced. On CD Jacobs’ wide palette of tone color and considerable dynamic range are liberated from the constriction and surface blemishes I remember from my well-worn LP copy. Jacobs’ bio, incidentally, is reprinted from the original 1975 vinyl edition, and does not take into account his tragic death eight years later from AIDS.

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Pieces (3) for Piano, Op. 11 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Paul Jacobs (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; Vienna, Austria 
Little Pieces (6) for Piano, Op. 19 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Paul Jacobs (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Vienna, Austria 
Piece for Piano, Op. 33a by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Paul Jacobs (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928-1929; Berlin, Germany 
Piece for Piano, Op. 33b by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Paul Jacobs (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; Berlin, Germany 
Pieces (5) for Piano, Op. 23 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Paul Jacobs (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920-1923; Vienna, Austria 
Suite for Piano, Op. 25 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Paul Jacobs (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921-1923; Vienna, Austria 

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