In New York, a Perceptive Trio Explores Schoenberg’s Influence

13/05/2019

Beethoven, Schindler-Mahler, Berg, Webern, Schumann, Schoenberg, Kurtág: Conor Hanick (piano), Ariadne Greif (soprano), Anna Tsukervanik (violin), St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, New York City, 5.5.2019. (DS)

Conor Hanick (piano) & Ariadne Greif (soprano) (c) Michael Yu

Beethoven – Bagatelles, Op. 126 No.1 and No.6
Schindler-Mahler – Selection from ‘Five Lieder’
BergJugendlieder
Webern – Four Pieces for Violin and Piano Op.7
SchumannDichterliebe Op.47
SchoenbergSix Little Piano Pieces Op.19
Kurtág – Tre Pezzi Op.14e

On the chest of Oskar Kokoschka, in his self-portrait, ‘Bride of the Wind’, set amidst swirling brushstrokes that evoke more of an evacuation-worthy hurricane than serene love, is Alma Schindler-Mahler. Over the course of the last century, her popular reputation as the notorious wife or lover of key music and art figures remains prominent. The canon has made her look as if she ‘blows like the wind’ from one dominant male creator to the next. As with most women’s history, a re-writing of the narrative is required. Schindler-Mahler was a serious composer and fluid writer — as her memoirs prove — and we owe her much of our understanding of Viennese musical social circles.

In this concert at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, presented by International Street Cannibals, she was also showcased as part of ‘Schoenberg’s DNA’. Though she was never his lover, she was a Viennese predecessor and contemporary to his burgeoning radical ideas. And on this occasion, while Schoenberg was the main course, I left with Schindler-Mahler ringing in my ears.

From the composer’s Five Lieder, soprano Ariadne Greif performed ‘Ich wandle unter Blume’ and ‘Laue Sommernacht’ with a perceptive magnetism, framing the delicate balance of complex harmonies and distinct melodies that make Schindler-Mahler’s works so gripping. Greif’s bold yet smooth voice entered and blossomed glowingly, as if emerging directly from the composer’s miniature worlds of storytelling genius.

‘Schoenberg’s DNA’ also crossed the chromosomes of Berg, Webern, Schumann and Beethoven in this exquisitely curated Sunday afternoon. With St. Mark’s stark, Protestant interior as background, each work glistened with its own aesthetic.

Pianist Conor Hanick and violinist Anna Tsukervanik, performed a set of unforgettable Webern miniatures, Four Pieces for Violin and Piano. Lightheartedly, a listener might compare Webern’s brevity to Twitter — if the concept had existed a century ago. Webern mastered the art of suspending time, often in two minutes or less — as if he were giving himself a limit on the number of notes per composition. Tsukervanik especially rose to the occasion, using the required modern violin techniques with sensitivity and expression that captured the composer’s essence.

Sticking to this miniaturist theme came the only actual Schoenberg on the program. Hanick, well-known as an unwavering expert in new music, found succinct clarity in Six Little Piano Pieces, which underlined the power that Schoenberg injected in all his masterworks, even the tiniest. Hanick and Tsukervanik also led the afternoon into the late 20th century with a well-chosen 1979 work by György Kurtág, Tre Pezzi.

The concert was bookended by two Beethoven Bagatelles (Op.126). Re-writing narratives won’t be necessary for Germany’s most famous musical transplant to Vienna. His DNA can be found in many male or female composers since. Even these two short works revealed a profound understanding of the sublime that arguably transverses any century and any radical change — Schoenberg’s or otherwise. To drive the point home, Hanick’s stellar reading of these two gems rivaled those of the greatest Beethoven interpreters.

Daniele Sahr

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! The Leeds Lieder Concert Series 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 18th Oxford Lieder Festival from 11 to 26 October 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anjali Dance Company Genius UK Tour 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Opera in 2019-2020 and New Artistic Director __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Opening of their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Abay Kazakh State Opera and Ballet Theatre at the London Coliseum on 17 November __________________________________
  • NEW! HarrisonParrott celebrates 50 years at the Royal Festival Hall __________________________________
  • NEW! Highgate International Chamber Music Festival’s Beethoven 249 in November __________________________________
  • NEW! SOPRANO ANGELA GHEORGHIU IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NEW! The Joys of the Marlboro Music Festival: Chamber Music’s Best-Kept Secret __________________________________
  • NOW REVIEWED! MATTHEW BOURNE’S ROMEO AND JULIET IN CINEMAS FROM 22 OCTOBER __________________________________
  • NEW! CELLIST JOHANNES MOSER IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • CHORUS MASTER STEPHEN DOUGHTY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • REVIEWED! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • MULTI-FACETED MUSICIAN JOY LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • ‘MUSICAL MAGIC’: AN INTERVIEW WITH VIOLINIST HENNING KRAGGERUD __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month