Pianist Jacob Greenberg connects two post-Wagnerian compositional lineages on this beautifully curated release: Debussy's visceral harmonic world and the Second Viennese School's rigorous approach to pitch. He shows in his performances of both books of the Debussy Préludes and key Second Viennese works that these composers are unified by a common embrace of sensuality in music. Soprano Tony Arnold makes a guest appearance for Schoenberg's The Book of the Hanging Gardens.
|01||Pour le Piano: Sarabande|
Pour le Piano: Sarabande
|Jacob Greenberg, piano||4:30|
|02||Sonata, op. 1|
Sonata, op. 1
|03||Études pour Piano: Pour les sixtes|
Études pour Piano: Pour les sixtes
Préludes, Book 1Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
|Jacob Greenberg, piano|
|04||Danseuses de Delphes|
Danseuses de Delphes
|06||Le vent dans la plaine|
Le vent dans la plaine
|07||"Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir"|
"Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir"
|08||Les collines d'Anacapri|
Les collines d'Anacapri
|09||Des pas sur la neige|
Des pas sur la neige
|10||Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest|
Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest
|11||La fille aux cheveux de lin|
La fille aux cheveux de lin
|12||La sérénade interrompue|
La sérénade interrompue
|13||La cathédrale engloutie|
La cathédrale engloutie
|14||La danse de Puck|
La danse de Puck
Variations, op. 27Anton Webern (1883-1945)
|Jacob Greenberg, piano|
|16||I. Sehr mässig|
I. Sehr mässig
|17||II. Sehr schnell|
II. Sehr schnell
|18||III. Ruhig fliessend|
III. Ruhig fliessend
|19||D'un cahier d'esquisses|
D'un cahier d'esquisses
Das Buch der Hängenden Gärten, op. 15Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
|Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano|
|20||Unterm Schutz von dichten Blättergründen|
Unterm Schutz von dichten Blättergründen
|21||Hain in diesen Paradiesen|
Hain in diesen Paradiesen
|22||Als Neuling trat ich ein|
Als Neuling trat ich ein
|23||Da meine Lippen reglos sind|
Da meine Lippen reglos sind
|24||Saget mir, auf welchem Pfade|
Saget mir, auf welchem Pfade
|25||Jedem Werke bin ich fürder tot|
Jedem Werke bin ich fürder tot
|26||Angst und hoffen wechselnd mich beklemmen|
Angst und hoffen wechselnd mich beklemmen
|27||Wenn ich heut nicht deinen Leib berühre|
Wenn ich heut nicht deinen Leib berühre
|28||Streng ist uns das Glück|
Streng ist uns das Glück
|29||Das schöne Beet betracht ich mir im Harren|
Das schöne Beet betracht ich mir im Harren
|30||Als wir hinter dem beblümten Tore|
Als wir hinter dem beblümten Tore
|31||Wenn sich bei heilger Ruh|
Wenn sich bei heilger Ruh
|32||Du lehnest wider eine Silberweide|
Du lehnest wider eine Silberweide
|33||Sprich nicht immer von dem Laub|
Sprich nicht immer von dem Laub
|34||Wir bevölkerten die abenddüstern Lauben|
Wir bevölkerten die abenddüstern Lauben
Préludes, Book 2Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
|Jacob Greenberg, piano|
|37||La puerta del vino|
La puerta del vino
|38||"Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses"|
"Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses"
|40||Général Lavine - eccentric|
Général Lavine - eccentric
|41||La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune|
La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune
|43||Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C.|
Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C.
|45||Les tierces alternées|
Les tierces alternées
Claude Debussy and the Second Viennese composers followed different paths of philosophical development, inspired by the trends of art and literature in their age, but they were aligned by a common embrace of sensuality in music. Theirs was a strongly shared language, and my interest as a pianist is to explore fields of intersection between these two musical worlds often thought to be opposite in character. Writing for the piano, an instrument equally wide-ranging and intimate, helped all these composers to explore decadent dimensions of harmony, form, and sound color.
For this recording, Debussy’s two books of Préludes and selected individual pieces offer a chance to view the music of Arnold Schoenberg’s school, assumed to be arid and formalist, through a tinted lens. The Préludes, influenced by otherworldly Symbolist poetry and the aesthetic of ancient classical art, give snapshots of places, objects, natural phenomena, and fleeting moods. Small musical forms bely the ambition of Debussy’s endeavor: he conjures minutely detailed scenes, each of the twenty-four pieces wholly distinct in feeling.
Both Schoenberg and Anton Webern thrive in similarly miniature constructions. Schoenberg’s song cycle The Book of the Hanging Gardens portrays a doomed, desperate romance in brief tableaus set in a mythic, lush landscape. Featuring some of Schoenberg’s earliest atonal pieces, the cycle is energized by its intentional instability. Its richly ambiguous harmonic language is well-matched to Stefan George’s poetry of emotions stretched to the breaking point. The heightened poetic sensitivity is reflected in the composer’s tactile approach to sound: this can be heard especially in number 11 of the set, which depicts the lovers touching each other lightly in the afterglow of passion. This movement can be compared to the exotic flirtation of Debussy’s Voiles, and the heat of La puerta del vino.
Alban Berg’s whole-tone patterns in his early Sonata draw a clear link to Debussy. The innovative, pervasive development of a simple motive leads Berg to coloristic extremes. And Webern’s Variations finds expressive continuity and intense energy in spare sounds or silence. Webern forges a totally original piano texture: notes become points of light, forming shapes in a gorgeous void. Debussy and the Second Viennese opened music to a sensual, seductive unreality that diverse composers, to our own age, have accepted as a promise of possibility.
-- Jacob Greenberg
Pianist JACOB GREENBERG's work as a soloist and chamber musician has earned worldwide acclaim. As a longtime member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), he has performed throughout North and South Americas and Europe. His solo concert series, Music at Close Range, shows his equal commitment to classics of the repertoire.
A leading pianist of modern song, he has toured extensively with soprano Tony Arnold. Other ensemble performances include MusicNOW, with members of the Chicago Symphony, and Contempo at the University of Chicago. As an orchestral player, he has also appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, and Australian Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Greenberg has recorded for the Bridge, Naxos, Mode, Kairos, Centaur, Tzadik, and New Amsterdam labels, and live performances have been heard on WQXR New York, BBC Radio 3, WFMT Chicago and Radio Netherlands. Other CDs include solo and chamber music of George Crumb with ICE (Bridge 9261) and a disc pairing Schumann and Ferruccio Busoni. Mr. Greenberg is also a record producer, and has completed discs for major domestic and international labels.
Recent highlights include a guest performance of works of György Kurtág at the International Summer Courses in Darmstadt, Germany, under the composer's guidance; a recital tour with flutist Claire Chase; Messiaen's Harawi at the Library of Congress; and Harrison Birtwistle's Slow Frieze with conductor Ludovic Morlot at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival. www.jacobgreenberg.net.http://www.jacobgreenberg.net
The Chicago Tribune writes, “anything sung by soprano Tony Arnold is worth hearing.” Hailed by the New York Times as “a bold and powerful interpreter,” she is recognized internationally as a leading proponent of new music in concert and recording, praised for her sparkling and insightful performances of the most daunting contemporary scores. A first-prize laureate of the both the Gaudeamus International Competition (NL) and the Louise D. McMahon Competition (USA), Ms. Arnold has collaborated with the most cutting-edge composers and instrumentalists on the world stage, receiving consistent critical accolades for a voice of beauty and warmth, an uncanny technical facility, sterling musicianship, and riveting stage presence. “Simply put, she is a rock-star in this genre”(Sequenza 21).http://www.screecher.com
Pianist Jacob Greenberg, a longtime proponent of modern music, here presents a large program of Debussy with members of the New Vienna School tossed in for contrast. He begins with the Debussy Sarabande, then moves into the Berg Piano Sonata before presenting Debussy’s Pour les sixtes and first book of Préludes, then returning to the 12-tone material.
He has a nice style and touch, though he does not, to my ears, feel any of the Debussy pieces from the inside. Apparently, he is of the mindset that Impressionist music should be played objectively, as should the modern music he so clearly loves. This is evident from the way he plays the Berg Sonata—the same basic touch and feeling. He imparts a warm sound to the Berg but plays it with more outward energy than the Debussy.
Most of the Préludes go a bit better than the Sarabande or Pour les sixtes. As the cycle progresses, Greenberg seems to become more involved with the music, even using pedal a lot more (as in “Voiles”), which brings out the music’s color and mood very well. “Ce qu’a vu le vent d’oust” is played with considerable muscle and vigor. He does not, however, quite bring off the crescendo-decrescendo of “La cathedral engloutie” quite as well as Walter Gieseking and Michael Korstick did.
Greenberg does a fine job on the Webern Variations, however, and with Schoenberg’s Book of the Hanging Gardens we enter a strange and mysterious world, thanks in large measure to the outstanding singing of Tony Arnold. My regular readers know how highly I esteem this great artist; she is the modern-day Bethany Beardslee with a sweeter timbre. Her musicianship, diction, musical style and interpretive qualities are virtually nonpareil nowadays—even better, in my view, than the outstanding Finnish soprano Anu Komsi, who I also treasure in her own way. Arnold and Greenberg prod and complement each other throughout this cycle in a way I’ve not heard before; even the famous recording of this music by Helen Vanni with Glenn Gould cannot best this performance in its subtle modifications of the musical line. This is a truly masterful recording of a great and, unfortunately, underrated work.
We then move on to Book II of the Préludes, which Greenberg also plays with some vigor, again occasionally missing the impressionistic side of things (i.e., “Ondine”) but largely successful. In essence, however, I personally feel that this set is most valuable for his performances of the more modern works, and especially The Book of the Hanging Gardens which is incomparably masterful.
Jacob Greenberg, a longtime pianist for the International Contemporary Ensemble, is skilled in cutting-edge repertoire. Already in 2018, he has appeared on the premiere recording of Steve Reich’s “Pulse,” as well as on the composer Wang Lu’s “Cloud Intimacy” — a restive composition, inspired by the mechanisms of online dating. But Mr. Greenberg is equally compelling in more familiar pieces. In “Hanging Gardens,” a new double set from New Focus Recordings, he dives into Debussy, as well as works of the Second Viennese School. The entire album is imaginative, but I’ve been returning frequently to his sparkling version of Debussy’s “Les Collines d’Anacapri,” from the first book of Préludes.
Some of the articulations here have a stark insistence worthy of a Minimalist-minded player. There’s also a slinky seductiveness to the way he handles some of the folk-tune reveries midway through. This isn’t a retransmission of vintage ideas about Debussy, which makes it all the more gorgeous.
-- Seth Colter Walls, NY Times, 7.27.2018