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Genzmer: Piano Trios, Etc / Turban, Yang, Brunner, Triendl

Release Date: 04/27/2004 
Label:  Thorofon   Catalog #: 2495   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Harald Genzmer
Performer:  Wen-Sinn YangIngolf TurbanOliver TriendlEduard Brunner
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Harald Genzmer (b. 1909) is, as of this writing, 95 and still alive...at least a dozen recordings of his works are currently listed, and by no means all of them on Thorofon. It is easy to hear why, as Genzmer’s music strikes these ears as being a fairly saleable commodity. It is not the post-modernist, neo-Romanticism we hear these days among so many young, mostly American composers that Genzmer practices. His world is that of the mid 20th century, and his music bears the stamp of a Romantic spirit viewed through the prism of Hindemith, Milhaud, Martin?, and Bartók. I find particularly Hindemithian, for example, Genzmer’s inclination to work his way towards cadences on major triads, regardless of what’s gone before, a device I find Read more simultaneously amusing and delightful.

The booklet note describes Genzmer as a “traditionalist,” and then expends considerable effort apologizing for the fact. If, by “traditionalist” what is meant is that Genzmer’s music is rooted in tonality, that it is observant of rules that regulate harmonic progression, and that its melodic gestures reach back to embrace composers as different, yet as connected in many ways, as Brahms, Max Reger, Hans Pfitzner, Schreker, Zemlinsky, Busoni, and even Berg, I see nothing to apologize for. This was, after all, the very world from which Genzmer came. He worked during the 1930s as Kapellmeister at the Breslau Opera, where he had occasion to meet and work with both Pfitzner and Richard Strauss.

The very thing I find attractive about this music others may find off-putting; that is that at any given moment it threatens to morph into someone and something else. It all seems hauntingly familiar in some way, like the slow movement of the F-Major Piano Trio (1944/67) that you could swear is first cousin to one of Bartók’s Romanian Dances; or the third movement of the same piece that only needs a little ironing out of the harmony to almost pass for a Dvo?ák scherzo. But it’s so infectious, I wanted to listen to it again and again. The 1964 Piano Trio is both later and more advanced in terms of its harmonic language. Yet it too remains essentially Romantic in gesture and feeling. Midpoint in the first movement, for example, there is a dramatic passage in which the first violin punctuates the proceedings with double-stopped chords, a familiar sound one encounters in Brahms’s chamber works with piano. The last movement of this work begins with the strings announcing in open octaves a four-note incipit that bears a striking resemblance to the opening of Beethoven’s “Grosse Fuge.”

The Clarinet Quartet is a real beauty. The spirit of Berg hovers over its opening Adagio. Then, from out of nowhere, comes a passage of pianistic exhibitionism right out of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, followed by a driven moto perpetuo Allegro molto, not unlike Martin?’s Concerto for Double Strings and Timpani. As you have probably gathered by now, I find myself quite taken with Genzmer, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I realize this will not be everyone’s latte of choice, but if you’re tempted to try it, I can tell you that the performances are really excellent and the recording does them full justice. Violinist Ingolf Turban and clarinetist Eduard Brunner are well-known entities, and their partners in this thoroughly enjoyable program, cellist Wen-Sin Yang and pianist Oliver Triendl, all play superbly well together. Strongly recommended.

Jerry Dubins, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

Piano Trio no 1 in F by Harald Genzmer
Performer:  Wen-Sinn Yang (Cello), Ingolf Turban (Violin), Oliver Triendl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944 
Piano Trio by Harald Genzmer
Performer:  Wen-Sinn Yang (Cello), Ingolf Turban (Violin), Oliver Triendl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964 
Clarinet Quartet by Harald Genzmer
Performer:  Oliver Triendl (Piano), Ingolf Turban (Violin), Wen-Sinn Yang (Cello),
Eduard Brunner (Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964 

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