Pi-Hsien Chen: Arnold Schonberg - Works for Piano (2011)
The three opening pieces from 1894 are stirring studies in the exploration of the keyboard. The three pieces from 1909, Opus II, mark Schönberg's transition towards that period that is somewhat incorrectly described as his atonal period. Deeper listening suggests how the composer magically loosened his hold on the keys of the piano responsible for conventional harmonic functions. As the notes, there is the sense of a beautiful relationship between the dissonance of symmetry. Much of this music, including the works from the literature of Opus 19, are stylistically similar to his larger works such as Pierrot Luniere.
Later works like Opus 23 find Schönberg seemingly redefining the role of tonalism in his music again. Spare and exquisitely colored, these pieces represent a sort of reductionism normally associated with Schönberg's pupil, Anton Webern. The compositions under Opus 23 are remarkable for their form, especially that which suggests a radically composed waltz. The "Suite für Klavier Opus 25" is a remarkable series of songs and dances, including a gigue, gavotte and superb minuet, which might suggest Schönberg's unerring sense of history. The utterly glacial clarity of the works under Opus 33 (a & b) mark a return by Schönberg to his roots of expressive, highly emotional music.
Pianist Pi-Hsien Chen has made remarkable interpretations of these works by Schönberg, providing a reminder of the relevance of the master in all idiomatic forms of music, especially the jazz avant-garde.
Track Listing: Drei Klavierstrücke (1894); Drei Klavierstrücke Opus II (1909); Sechs kliene Klavierstrücke Opus 19 (1911); Fünf Klavierstrücke Opus 23 (1920-23); Suite für Klavier Opus 25 (1921-23); Klavierstrück Opus 33a (25 -12-1928--25-4-1929); Klavierstrück Opus 33b (8-10 -10-1931).
Personnel: Pi-Hsien Chen: piano.
Record Label: Hat Hut Records