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The View Was All In Lines

Wallin / Karlsson
Release Date: 11/13/2012 
Label:  Two-l   Catalog #: 85   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Rolf WallinAsbjorn SchaathunArnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Kenneth Karlsson
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



WALLIN Seven Imperatives. Etude 3. SCHAATHUN Transcriptions of an Unknown Symphony. Stravinsky goes Bach and Schaathun goes Frescobaldi. SCHOENBERG Sechs kleine Klavierstücke. SCHOENBERG/SCHAATHUN/WALLIN Zwölf kleine Klavierstücke Kenneth Karlsson (pn) 2L 085-SACD (SACD: 65:55)


The pianist has had Read more long-term friendships with both of these Norwegian composers, Rolf Wallin (b. 1957) and Asbørn Schaathun (b. 1961). Kenneth Karlsson has commissioned, played, and even assisted in the composition of many of their piano pieces. One piece was composed by e-mail—the story is complex, so get the disc and read Karlsson’s fascinating program notes.


Wallin’s Seven Imperatives applies a wide range of 20th-century compositional styles. Seek begins with nods to both Debussy and Schoenberg. Push sounds as if the CD player was skipping or repeating, but it does weave a spell. Much of it is thoughtful, occasionally bursting into over-pedaled climaxes. Sink has long stretches of delicate single notes. Spin treads lightly at the extreme top and bottom of the keyboard. Stab is suitably violent and sudden, over in 30 seconds. Lean , at 8:24 the longest movement, is ethereal and slow; Karlsson is able to hold the musical line through many silences, which is quite a conjuring trick. Quit ties it all together in a mere 18 seconds. Although Seven Imperatives is the one Norwegian work here not written for Karlsson, he extracts an enormous amount of color from it, which suggests stunning technical command as well as sympathy for the work. Wallin should certainly get as much or more credit; composer and performer appear to be one united entity.


Schaathun’s Transcriptions of an Unknown Symphony is a 17-minute ramble, sometimes incoherent, sometimes convincing in its attempt to create a modern Schumann or Scriabin. The unknown symphony would be by the latter, not the former; one is also reminded of Reger’s endless piano variations, with their fistfuls of notes. It is pleasant and intriguing but leaves little behind it other than the quandry as to whether it is too shallow or too deep. Perhaps that paradox justifies its composition, performance, and recording.


Stravinsky Goes Bach and Schaathun Goes Frescobaldi may set a record for its ratio of letters in a title to time passed; it is over almost by the time one writes the title. The first reference is obvious in the music, the second less so, for the comparative obscurity of its composers (don’t fret, Frescobaldi fans; your man was, at best, not quite Bach). Wallin’s Etude 3 thunders and shrieks at opposite ends of the keyboard; perhaps it is meant to test a pianist’s wingspread. Schoenberg’s six little pieces have never sounded so welcoming, so all-embracing. The playing affirms Karlsson’s stance as a dedicated, sensitive interpreter as well as an able technician. I’ve not heard a more satisfying performance.


One idea behind this disc was to honor the centennial of the Schoenberg work, written in 1911. To that end, Karlsson invited Wallin and Schaathun to each compose three more Kleine Klavierstücke in 2011, and to do so in a single day, as Schoenberg had done with the first five of his six. The result is the multicomposer work listed last in the head note. It should have appeared last on the disc, too, after the listener has become familiar with Schaathun and Wallin, as well as reminded of the Schoenberg. Instead it is placed second, after Seven Imperatives . In this position, at least, it comes across as a jumbled assemblage, the six Norwegian pieces randomly placed among Schoenberg’s six—and as something of a gimmick, which may bias a listener against it. Wallin’s three pieces sparkle brilliantly, but they do not fit Schoenberg well. Schaathun’s first two fade into the woodwork; his last is a little gem, a marvelous match to the century-old masterpiece.


The recorded sound is gorgeous, with a reverberance beyond even the pedal-to-the-metal implications of the music. It does suit the music and Karlsson’s multihued piano, which is rich in its middle register but has the desiccated top few notes typical of Steinways. SACD adds an almost miraculous airiness and clarity, some of which is lost in the general wash of five-channel sound. All in all, this is a most unusual and rewarding piano recital.


FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

1.
Imperatives (7) for piano by Rolf Wallin
Performer:  Kenneth Karlsson (Piano)
Venue:  Henie Onstad Art Centre, Norway 
Length: 20 Minutes 24 Secs. 
2.
Commentaries (3) on Schoenberg's 6 kleine Klavierstücke, for piano by Rolf Wallin
Performer:  Kenneth Karlsson (Piano)
Venue:  Henie Onstad Art Centre, Norway 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
3.
Commentaries (3) on Schoenberg's 6 kleine Klavierstücke, for piano by Asbjorn Schaathun
Performer:  Kenneth Karlsson (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Henie Onstad Art Centre, Norway 
Length: 2 Minutes 3 Secs. 
4.
Little Pieces (6) for Piano, Op. 19 by Arnold Schoenberg
Performer:  Kenneth Karlsson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Henie Onstad Art Centre, Norway 
Length: 5 Minutes 17 Secs. 
5.
Transcriptions of an Unknown Symphony, for piano by Asbjorn Schaathun
Performer:  Kenneth Karlsson (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Henie Onstad Art Centre, Norway 
Length: 16 Minutes 54 Secs. 
6.
Stravinsky Goes Bach and Schaathun Goes Frescobaldi, for piano by Asbjorn Schaathun
Performer:  Kenneth Karlsson (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Henie Onstad Art Centre, Norway 
Length: 2 Minutes 57 Secs. 
7.
Etude for piano No. 3 by Rolf Wallin
Performer:  Kenneth Karlsson (Piano)
Venue:  Henie Onstad Art Centre, Norway 
Length: 4 Minutes 53 Secs. 

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