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Exil - Piano Music by Korngold, Zeisl, Toch, Schoenberg, Castelnuovo-Tedesco / Eric Le Van

Castelnuovo-tedesco / Le Van,Eric
Release Date: 10/29/2013 
Label:  Music & Arts   Catalog #: 1271   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Erich Wolfgang KorngoldEric ZeislErnst TochArnold Schoenberg,   ... 
Performer:  Eric Le Van
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

EXIL/EXILE. Piano Music by Composers with Roots in Two Continents Eric Le Van (pn) MUSIC & ARTS 1271 (68:18)

KORNGOLD Four Waltzes. ZEISL November. TOCH Scherzo in b, op. 11. Profile No. 3, op. 68. Der Read more Jongleur, Burleske, op. 31/3. SCHOENBERG Six Little Piano Pieces, op. 19. CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO Cielo di settembre, op. 1. I Naviganti. Fandango

As mentioned in the above interview, Eric was kind enough to send me photocopies of all the numbers on the disc, which amounted to quite a thick stack of paper; but following along as I listened to the disc turned out to be quite an illuminating experience.

Korngold’s musical persona, for example, is already forged in the Four Waltzes . The second of them, titled “Margit,” begins simply enough that even I could play the first two measures of it, which are nothing more than a dotted half-note C in bar one, and a dotted half-note B? in bar two. There’s no harmony in those first two bars, nothing for the left hand to do, but by bar three, it becomes clear just how sophisticated and advanced Korngold’s approach to harmony and tonality is. In the first 16 bars of the piece, Korngold uses all 12 notes of the chromatic scale, several more than once. But what’s interesting is that unlike Schoenberg’s vertical combinations of notes, which often are non-triadic chord clusters, each of Korngold’s vertical combination of notes is individually analyzable within the sphere of triadic harmony; it’s just the linear progression of one chord to the next that is very difficult to reconcile in terms of a given key.

This same level of harmonic and tonal sophistication extends to the other three waltzes in the series as well: “Gretl,” “Gisi,” and “Mitzi.” The German word fröhliche (merry) in the full title of Korngold’s waltzes strikes an incongruous note, for all four of them sound like subtle variations on shades of melancholy and mauve, giving us insight into the Viennese Zeitgeist at the time they were written, and which Le Van captures with probing perception. Whether one appreciates the musical aesthetic or not, one cannot help but marvel at the tonal colorations Le Van elicits from his instrument through the variety of keyboard touch and pedaling he brings to each piece.

As mentioned in the above interview, Zeisl’s eight piano pieces, collectively titled November , had a particularly spellbinding effect on me. Schoenberg’s six little Webernesque pieces can best be described as musical canapés; it’s hard to stop after sampling just one of them, but consuming too many will spoil your appetite for the main course, which, in this case comes at end in the form of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s I Naviganti , the longest work on the disc, and Fandango . Both are real virtuoso showpieces and perfectly suited to display Eric Le Van’s consummate technical mastery and his wide-ranging musical talent.

As previously mentioned in the above interview, several of the pieces on this disc are world premiere recordings, including Zeisl’s November , Toch’s Scherzo in B Minor and Profile No. 3, and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Cielo di Settembre and Fandango on the Name of Amparo Iturbi.

The CD, recorded at the Bayerischer Rundfunk in Munich in 2009, is beautifully set in an open but not overly resonant acoustic space, and affords Le Van’s piano its full due. The album’s accompanying booklet, with extensive and very detailed notes self-authored by Le Van, is also filled with black and white period photos of the composers and their families.

This is a recital not to be missed by any pianophile or by anyone interested in these mostly early works by several composers displaced by the events of their time to new surroundings and a new culture that would pave different paths for each of them. Very strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Waltzes (4) for Piano by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Eric Le Van (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Austria 
Klavierstücke (8) by Eric Zeisl
Performer:  Eric Le Van (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Scherzo in B Minor, Op. 11 by Ernst Toch
Performer:  Eric Le Van (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Profile no 3, Op. 68 by Ernst Toch
Performer:  Eric Le Van (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Burlesken for Piano, Op. 31: no3, Der Jongleur: Muito vivo (Sehr lebhaft) by Ernst Toch
Performer:  Eric Le Van (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Little Pieces (6) for Piano, Op. 19 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Eric Le Van (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Vienna, Austria 
Cielo di settembre, Op. 1 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Performer:  Eric Le Van (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Italy 
I Naviganti by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Performer:  Eric Le Van (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; Italy 
Fandango by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Performer:  Eric Le Van (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 

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