Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Works for Solo Piano
Genres: New Age, Classical
Albany is proud to present this generous selection of piano music by one of America s most important composers. Leon Kirchner is one of the last of that stalwart breed who first came to prominence in the late 1940 s and ea... more »
Listen to Samples
Albany is proud to present this generous selection of piano music by one of America s most important composers. Leon Kirchner is one of the last of that stalwart breed who first came to prominence in the late 1940 s and early 1950s. A pupil of Bloch, Schoenberg and Sessions at the University of California, Berkeley, Kirchner s music definitely shows affinities with Schoenberg in outlook and temperament. No less than Schoenberg, Kirchner is both an ardent modernist and a volatile Romantic, a composer whose sophisticated awareness of the past informs a restless search for authenticity. A classic example would be his Piano Concerto No. 1, first recorded over 50 years ago by the composer himself with Dmitri Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic. Like much of the music on this disc, there is edginess and a tough demeanor, but there is real music present, in the traditional sense. This significant new release reissues classic performances by Leon Fleisher and Peter Serkin as well as presenting important recent pieces such as the Sonata No. 2 and The Forbidden.
Six Pianists Celebrate the Music of Leon Kirchner
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 06/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Leon Kirchner was born in 1919. He was a student of Schoenberg. He has written atonally for many years and yet his music has always had the same sort of Romantic impulses as those of his mentor; that is to say, if one didn't know Kirchner's music rarely had tonal centers, one might think this was simply hyperchromatic yet tonal music. Kirchner has also been an esteemed, even revered, teacher at Harvard where he taught, among others, John Adams. This CD is a collection of performances of six of his quintessential piano works played by six distinguished American pianists -- Leon Fleisher, Peter Serkin, Jonathan Biss, Jeremy Denk, Max Levinson and Joel Fan -- and in at least three instances -- those of Serkin, Fan and Biss -- the pianist is the dedicatee of the piece he plays.
The earliest piece is the First Piano Sonata (1948) played by Leon Fleisher. I'm not sure when it was recorded but it appeared initially on a Fleisher album also containing music of Copland, Sessions and Rorem. Whatever its recording date, the sound is fine and the performance even better. This is passionate and engaged music. Peter Serkin included 'Interlude I' (1989) on his sensational album '... in real time' which contained thirteen pieces written for him by seven eminent composers, including Kirchner. It, too, is a passionate and dense work and was followed some thirteen years later (2002) by 'Interlude II', written for Jonathan Biss, the stunningly talented Philadelphia pianist. The second Interlude is a polar opposite of its predecessor in that it is transparent, flowing and with islands of Zenlike serenity. (Interestingly, the piece started out to be for left hand alone, for Leon Fleisher, but the nature of the music apparently led Kirchner to change his plans for it.)
The 'Five Pieces for Piano' (1987) each have titles taken from Dickinson poems and indeed they started out as songs set to her words. When a couple of pianists wondered if Kirchner couldn't set them for piano alone, he did so, incorporating the sung line into the songs' piano accompaniments. They are played magnificently by Levinson. In a brilliant stroke, the Albany booklet includes the texts of Dickinson's poems: The Auctioneer; He scanned it -- staggered --; The Crickets; Much Madness is divinest Sense--; and There came a Wind.
'The Forbidden' (2006) was written for Joel Fan. The latest piece here, written when Kirchner was 87, it is supple, long-limbed, flowing. Sonata No. 2 (2002) is a single thirteen-minute movement, a bracing dry martini of a piece, played with delicacy and grace by Jeremy Denk.
These are, of course, definitive performances of these works, and if you are an admirer of Kirchner's, you'll want this compilation.