Denes Varjon – Precipitando: Alban Berg, Leos Janacek, Franz Liszt (2012) [Official Digital Download 24bit/44.1kHz]

Denes Varjon – Precipitando: Alban Berg, Leos Janacek, Franz Liszt (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44.1 kHz | Time – 00:57:42 minutes | 318 MB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | @ ECM Records GmbH
Recorded: April 2011, Auditorio Radiotelevisione svizzera, Lugano

After important contributions to Heinz Holliger’s “Romancendres” and acclaimed performance, with Carolin Widmann, of Schumann’s Violin Sonatas, here is the first New Series solo recording from Hungarian pianist Dénes Várjon. It is a recital that draws the listener in from the first moments – beginning with the dark, brooding language of Alban’s Berg’s Piano Sonata Op. 1, shaped in the shadow of Schoenberg, and continuing into the nebulous regions of Janáček’s impressionistic and near-contemporaneous “In the mists”, finally emerging into the clear light of Liszt’s immense – and immensely-influential – B-minor Sonata.

“Precipitando,” precipitating, is an excellent title for this recital, which is dramatically better as a whole than as the sum of its parts. Each work, in the vision of pianist Dénes Várjon, is the precipitate, or perhaps the crystallization, of an experimental tradition that began with Liszt and continued in various forms through the Second Viennese School and the French Impressionists, whom Várjon considers manifestations of related rather than opposed impulses. Várjon’s most novel take here is his way of looking at Liszt as a proto-modern, getting away from the rock-star image bequeathed by, among others, filmmaker Ken Russell. Instead, as Paul Griffiths puts it in his fine notes, Liszt was the “forerunner” of Strauss and Schoenberg “in matters for form because he was so in matters of harmony, a continuous, constantly evolving structure answering the needs of a harmonic style in which keys and key relationships can no longer be taken for granted.” That description might apply to all three of the pieces on the album: the densely motivic and harmonically challenging Piano Sonata, Op. 1, of Berg, and even Janácek’s In the mists, which pushes Debussy’s Impressionism to the breaking point harmonically. You could find better recordings of any of these pieces individually; the Liszt Piano Sonata in B minor may seem perfunctory for some listeners. Yet hearing the three works together in this way becomes a source of revelations, many of them concerning the fact that harmonic experimentation was never an end in itself for composers in the second half of the 19th century. An intelligent triumph of programming, and engineering as well. –AllMusic Review by James Manheim

Tracklist:
Alban Berg (1885-1935)
1. Sonata Op. 1 11:03
Leoš Janáček (1854-1928)
2. V Mlhách (In the Mists) (1912): I Andante 03:28
3. V Mlhách (In the Mists) (1912): II Molto Adagio 05:08
4. V Mlhách (In the Mists) (1912): III Andantino 02:56
5. V Mlhách (In the Mists) (1912): IV Presto 04:13
Franz Liszt (1811–1886)
6. Sonata in B Minor (1853) 31:10

Personnel:
Dénes Várjon: piano

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