HANS WINTERBERG (1901-1991): Piano Music, Vol. 1 - Sonata No. 2, 4 Intermezzi, Suite Theresienstadt, Suite, 7 Impressionist Pieces in Twelve-Tone (all but Suite Theresienstadt are First Recordings).
Catalogue Number: 09V046
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0531
Description: Following in the footsteps of this summer's release of the pioneering and revelatory first recording - ever - of Winterberg's piano music (06U012), we are now in a position to gain a wider perspective on this major composer whose recognition was derailed by a sequence of unique circumstances that followed WWII and their consequences after his death. Winterberg belonged to the generation of European Jewish composers many of whom we think of as mid-20th century, and the premature ending of whose careers for the usual disgusting and horrific reasons in the 1940s, we deplore. But Winterberg survived the Nazis and went on to have a significant post-war career (eventually) in Munich, where his music was taken up extensively by Bavarian Radio. After his death, strange legal maneuverings and - silence, until 2015 ( https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=t56p-aeWe24 ). This release samples his extensive output for his own instrument, from 1929 to 1973. The early Intermezzi clearly show his interest in Schönberg and Webern, though they do not adhere to any strict dodecaphonic dogma. One gets the impression that before 1940 the composer was flexing his compositional muscles and forming his individual brand of tough individualism, as epitomized in the First Sonata (06U012), marked by intense chromaticism, bi- and poly-tonality, and a fondness for polyrhythms and unsettling changes of meter. The Second Sonata is in three movements, and marks a progression toward less dense and less (though still plentifully) dissonant idiom, which is more identifiably 'Czech' than the earlier works and shares some features with Janáček and Martinu. The highlight of this disc is arguably the 1973 Pieces, which are neither impressionistic nor twelve-tone except in the sense of being very chromatic indeed. The pieces have a neo-Romantic sense of drama and intensity of mood, from melancholy to fiery and tumultuous; the piano writing is of a very high order in terms of virtuosity and expressivity, and the final Toccata is a whirlwind of broken chords between the hands and frantic rhythmic momentum. The 1955 suite is more straightforward, with much ambiguous tonality (the opening movement recalls Busoni) and elements of tongue in cheek parody of 20th century 'schools' that Winterberg had sampled and abandoned. Brigiitte Helbig (piano).