Jacob Greenberg: Hanging Gardens


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.


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Performer(s) Time
Total Time 134:46
01Pour le Piano: Sarabande
Pour le Piano: Sarabande
Jacob Greenberg, piano4:30
02Sonata, op. 1
Sonata, op. 1
Jacob Greenberg, piano10:42
03Études pour Piano: Pour les sixtes
Études pour Piano: Pour les sixtes
Jacob Greenberg, piano4:14

Préludes, Book 1

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Jacob Greenberg, piano
04Danseuses de Delphes
Danseuses de Delphes
Jacob Greenberg, piano3:15
Jacob Greenberg, piano3:37
06Le vent dans la plaine
Le vent dans la plaine
Jacob Greenberg, piano2:10
07"Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir"
"Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir"
Jacob Greenberg, piano4:06
08Les collines d'Anacapri
Les collines d'Anacapri
Jacob Greenberg, piano3:13
09Des pas sur la neige
Des pas sur la neige
Jacob Greenberg, piano3:51
10Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest
Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest
Jacob Greenberg, piano3:36
11La fille aux cheveux de lin
La fille aux cheveux de lin
Jacob Greenberg, piano2:26
12La sérénade interrompue
La sérénade interrompue
Jacob Greenberg, piano2:31
13La cathédrale engloutie
La cathédrale engloutie
Jacob Greenberg, piano6:06
14La danse de Puck
La danse de Puck
Jacob Greenberg, piano2:47
Jacob Greenberg, piano2:21

Variations, op. 27

Anton Webern (1883-1945)
Jacob Greenberg, piano
16I. Sehr mässig
I. Sehr mässig
Jacob Greenberg, piano2:05
17II. Sehr schnell
II. Sehr schnell
Jacob Greenberg, piano0:44
18III. Ruhig fliessend
III. Ruhig fliessend
Jacob Greenberg, piano3:16
19D'un cahier d'esquisses
D'un cahier d'esquisses
Jacob Greenberg, piano4:30

Das Buch der Hängenden Gärten, op. 15

Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano
20Unterm Schutz von dichten Blättergründen
Unterm Schutz von dichten Blättergründen
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano2:22
21Hain in diesen Paradiesen
Hain in diesen Paradiesen
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano1:24
22Als Neuling trat ich ein
Als Neuling trat ich ein
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano1:24
23Da meine Lippen reglos sind
Da meine Lippen reglos sind
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano1:26
24Saget mir, auf welchem Pfade
Saget mir, auf welchem Pfade
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano1:17
25Jedem Werke bin ich fürder tot
Jedem Werke bin ich fürder tot
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano1:01
26Angst und hoffen wechselnd mich beklemmen
Angst und hoffen wechselnd mich beklemmen
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano0:59
27Wenn ich heut nicht deinen Leib berühre
Wenn ich heut nicht deinen Leib berühre
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano0:47
28Streng ist uns das Glück
Streng ist uns das Glück
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano1:28
29Das schöne Beet betracht ich mir im Harren
Das schöne Beet betracht ich mir im Harren
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano1:56
30Als wir hinter dem beblümten Tore
Als wir hinter dem beblümten Tore
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano2:43
31Wenn sich bei heilger Ruh
Wenn sich bei heilger Ruh
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano1:58
32Du lehnest wider eine Silberweide
Du lehnest wider eine Silberweide
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano1:32
33Sprich nicht immer von dem Laub
Sprich nicht immer von dem Laub
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano0:42
34Wir bevölkerten die abenddüstern Lauben
Wir bevölkerten die abenddüstern Lauben
Tony Arnold, soprano, Jacob Greenberg, piano4:33

Préludes, Book 2

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Jacob Greenberg, piano
Jacob Greenberg, piano3:39
36Feuilles mortes
Feuilles mortes
Jacob Greenberg, piano3:00
37La puerta del vino
La puerta del vino
Jacob Greenberg, piano3:25
38"Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses"
"Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses"
Jacob Greenberg, piano3:00
Jacob Greenberg, piano2:48
40Général Lavine - eccentric
Général Lavine - eccentric
Jacob Greenberg, piano2:48
41La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune
La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune
Jacob Greenberg, piano4:29
Jacob Greenberg, piano2:57
43Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C.
Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C.
Jacob Greenberg, piano2:28
Jacob Greenberg, piano2:59
45Les tierces alternées
Les tierces alternées
Jacob Greenberg, piano2:43
46Feux d'artifice
Feux d'artifice
Jacob Greenberg, piano4:58

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

  • Producers: Jacob Greenberg and Ryan Streber
  • Editing producer: Jacob Greenberg
  • Engineer/editor: Ryan Streber, Oktaven Audio, Mt. Vernon, NY
  • Assistant editors: Hans Hsu and Charles Mueller
  • Recorded between December 2015 and March 2018
  • CD design: Jill Malek

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.


Tony Arnold

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).

27 Jul, 2018

Releases from Jacob Greenberg, Josh Modney, and Wang Lu in The New York Times

The New York Times included mentions of three recent releases in a summer music round up, Jacob Greenberg's "Hanging Gardens" featuring music by Debussy, Webern, Berg, and Schoenberg's rarely heard "The Book of Hanging Gardens" with soprano Tony Arnold, Josh Modney's far ranging 3 CD set of works, "Engage", including music written for him by his Wet Ink colleagues, Bach, and his own …

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The Art Music Lounge

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.

The New York Times

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

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