Magazine article Gramophone

Schnabel: Complete Works for Solo Piano

Magazine article Gramophone

Schnabel: Complete Works for Solo Piano

Article excerpt


Complete Works for Solo Piano

Jenny Lin pf

Steinway & Sons (F) (2) 30074 (141' * DDD)

Until recently, my experience of Artur Schnabel as composer was limited to the stylistic disconnect of the cadenzas to his Mozart concertos, with one exception. Almost 20 years to the day after his death, a group of his pupils gathered in New York for a memorial concert at Lincoln Center. Helen and Karl Ulrich Schnabel, Claude Frank, Frank Glazer, Lili Kraus, Tung Kwong-Kwong, Eunice Norton and Beveridge Webster played concertos for two and three pianos by Bach and Mozart. Leon Fleisher conducted Schnabel's Duodecimet for mixed chamber ensemble, a late piece that, to my teenage ears, sounded so difficult as to be virtually impenetrable.

Thanks to the intrepid Jenny Lin, we now have an overview of Schnabel's piano music. Lin's artistry is informed by a curiosity as voracious as it is insatiable. She is also a pianist of the first calibre, with a rock-solid, multivalent technique that serves a richly cultivated imagination. Who knows? She may be just the person to rescue Schnabel's piano music from the obscurity in which it has languished, virtually since its creation. How could a performer as forward-thinking, perceptive, provocative and widely influential as Schnabel fail to be interesting as a composer as well?

If the earlier works, those up to about 1920, suggest no new paths, they are nevertheless charmingly ingratiating and idiomatically conceived for the instrument. …

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