EGON KORNAUTH (1891-1959): Piano Music, Vol. 1 - Phantasie, Op. 10, 3 Klavierstücke, Op. 23, Kleine Suite, Op. 29, Präludium und Passacaglia, Op. 43, 5 Klavierstücke, Op. 44.
Catalogue Number: 04O056
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0159
Description: Proving once again the extraordinary wealth of first-rate music still awaiting rediscovery, this disc gives us World Premiere Recordings of works that it's hard to believe somehow escaped remaining as staples of the Romantic repertory. Kornauth and his music are products of the world of Strauss, Schmidt (with whom he studied) Zemlinsky and Joseph Marx. The earliest pieces, such as the 1915 Phantasie, are bold, Romantic essays, lush of texture and demanding in technique, even suggesting at times a piano transcription of some unknown work by Strauss. Even here, Kornauth's harmonic sensibility displays a penchant for the subtly unexpected, a trait that increasingly characterised the later, more pianistically restrained works, of which the second piece of Op.23 stands out as exceptionally original. The seven movements of the Kleine Suite (1923) take this harmonic refinement and originality further still. The looming tensions in pre-WWII Europe produced a profound change by the 1939 Präludium und Passacaglia, a profoundly serious work, the passacaglia theme gloomy and menacing; the variations ingenious and diverse but all in a predominantly pessimistic mood. The Klavierstücke that immediately followed, while lighter in texture and tone, share something of this new austerity, along with a sense of nostalgic resignation. Jonathan Powell (piano).