CD 1: Piano Concerto op. 31
The Concerto op. 31 was written in 1922 and premiered in Dresden in March 1923 under Fritz Busch, with Walter Gieseking as soloist. It is – apart from two youthful works – Pfitzner’s first symphonic work, symphonic also because the symphonic type of the piano concerto is pronounced, as we encounter it in Brahms’ 2nd Piano Concerto and later in Reger’s Concerto (1910). In its conception, Pfitzner’s work is probably the last of its kind in time, a late work of a late form of the classical-romantic piano concerto. It is particularly suited to this typically Pfitzner juxtaposition of brilliance and darkness, complexity and directness.
CD 2: Violin Concerto op. 34; Duo op. 43; Scherzo for Orchestra
With the Scherzo from 1888 and with the Duo op. 43 from 1937 we survey almost 50 years of Hans Pfitzner’s development, 19 years he is 19 years old when he composed the Scherzo for Orchestra while still a student at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt; the 68-year-old was the Reich’s Senator for Culture when he composed the Duo for Violin and Violoncello with Orchestra 13 years after the Violin Concerto op. 34 The Scherzo for orchestra bears witness to the fact that the student of James Kwast and lwan Knorr must have scrupulously studied the compositional manuscripts of his tone-setting forebears and can quite easily write a scherzo in the Mendelssohn succession. The Duo for Violin and Orchestra op. 43 (1937) is an example of dignified composition and thus a typical late work by Pfitzner. Stylistically it bears all the hallmarks of late Romantic expression, beginning with the rhapsodic or rhapsodic or cantabile thematic gestures to a thoroughly chromatic harmony, which admittedly always remains within tonal limits in the Concerto for Violin in B minor with Orchestra op. 34, however, we encounter a completely different Hans Pfitzner however, in the Concerto for Violin in B minor with Orchestra op. 34 we encounter a completely different Hans Pfitzner, and the status of this concerto goes far beyond that of a personal document. The work is in one movement, but is nevertheless in four movements in disguise. In style, form, solo instrument and orchestral treatment, as well as in the entire thematic dramaturgy, Pfitzner has indeed achieved an inspirational In style, solo instrument and orchestral treatment, as well as in the entire thematic dramaturgy, Pfitzner has indeed achieved an inspirational tour de force, which bears truly ingenious traits and makes this concerto (unjustly overshadowed) one of the most interesting of its genre.
CD 3: Symphonies opp. 44 & 46; Solhaug Preludes Nos. 1-3
Again, two late works are united on this CD with a youthful work. And one notices again that both phases are very similar in Pfitzner. Stylistically more indebted to High Romanticism than to Late Romanticism, marked by a classical consciousness of form. Pfitzner’s “wild” years were in the 1920s. For the romantic, fairy-tale play “Das Fest auf Solhaug” (The Feast at Solhaug) by Henrik Ibsen, Pfitzner wrote a gossamer, dance-like incidental music in 1889/90 that exudes an almost French flair. fifty years later he wrote the “Little Symphony” op. 44 and a year later the Symphony op. 46, both of which are serene but by no means resigned late works. The parallelism to Richard Strauss’ late work is striking. Cheerful melancholic music of remembrance and farewell.
CD 4: Symphony op. 36a; Fantasy op. 56; Elegy and Round Dance op. 45
The main work on this CD is the great C-sharp minor Symphony op. 36a, surely one of the most harrowing and modern works by this composer so rich in contradictions. As a reworking of the string quartet composed eight years earlier (1925), it also constitutes a unique work in music history The two late compositions “Elegie und Reigen” and the “Fantasie” complete the portrait of Pfitzner the symphonist.
CD 5: The three cello concertos
Hardly any other composer has provoked so many discussions for and against as Hans Pfitzner. In the process, (unfortunately) the writer-polemicist has always been more in the foreground than the brilliant composer he undoubtedly was. This situation could be decisively corrected by our Pfitzner edition: At least that is how the critics unanimously attested it to us We are now crowning the concert cycle with the first recording of all three cello concertos. The fact that we were able to win David Geringas, one of the best cellists of our time, for this makes it an event sui generis. He is accompanied (and more than that) by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Werner Andreas Albert.