SCHUBERT: PIANO 4-HANDSTrois Marches Militaires, Andantino Varié, Lebensstürme, Four Ländler & Fantasia in F Minor
MIN KWON, piano
ROBERT LEHRBAUMER, piano
“Min Kwon and Robert Lehrbaumer play as one organism. Kwon usually takes primo and Lehrbaumer secondo, but they do switch on a couple of pieces. I tried to discover any difference in tone or approach. Any distinctions are extremely subtle ones, with Lehrbaumer slightly drier and more detached in his attack. However, they make very clear the architecture of each piece and always let you hear the important line, no matter how buried in the texture. The performances to me get to the essence of Schubert as a composer – part naïve bourgeois, part visionary titan. This recording brings smiles to my face every time I listen to it. “
Steve Schwartz, ClassicalNet [October 2012]
"The Marches emerge spiritedly... good program making..."
Turok's Choice, Issue No.229 [February 2011]
"...a seductive Schubertian 'Volume I'... Supple and idiomatic rubato gilds the amiable give and take of the Marches..."
[ * * * * ] Paul Riley, BBC Music [February 2011]
"The Korean-born Rutgers professor and Austrian pianist/organist make a commanding duo debut in some of Schubert’s greatest four-hand pieces, stacking up well to the considerable competition in this music. Their virtues immediately impress in the Marches Militaires: a crisp élan with absolute unanimity of coordination; subtlety of dynamic and rhythmic inflection; and an attractively light, debonair touch that brings out the lyrical, playful side of these exceedingly un-militaristic specimens of the genre... The “Lebensstürme” Duo gets a deliberate, measured, and rather somber treatment, keenly concentrated with tension well sustained. There is impressive attention to detail, and plenty of time for it to speak. The great Fantasy is played with clarity and precision, owing much to their sparing and subtle use of pedal. The B-Minor Andantino is given intimate, refined treatment. The disc is beautifully recorded, and all in all this stylish, refined duo is easy to recommend. I’ll be looking out for more from them."
Boyd Pomeroy, Fanfare [March/April 2011]
"It is a testament to the excellence of the Kwon-Lehrbaumer duo that one hears these perhaps over-familiar works with new ears. This is particularly true of the Marches militaires. The pianists find surprising depths in the contrasting material in the famous D Major, and hit exactly the right celebratory mood for the second. Charm runs through the third. The late Andantino varié (1827) makes for the perfect contrast. Calmness meets reposeful play in a perfectly balanced piece. Kwon had taken primo in the Marches militaires; here, it is Lehrbaumer’s turn. Each of Schubert’s variations turns into an exploratory delight... The rest of the disc is well programmed... The drama of the opening [of the Duo in A Minor] is as well caught as the miraculously pliant, delicate contrasting sections. It emerges as a work of great depth... The duo’s attention to detail is remarkable—try the perfectly even accompaniment just moments before the end... there is much joy to be obtained in Kwon and Lehrbaumer’s third movement [of the F-Minor Fantasia] and the sudden, bare Bachian counterpoint of the finale emerges as a most effective stroke here... Min Kwon’s disc on MSR of Schubert and Liszt was enthusiastically welcomed by Charles Timbrell in Fanfare 32:3. I am yet to hear that disc (I’d like to, certainly). In the meantime, I can only echo praise of Kwon’s musicality, a musical sensitivity matched by her partner on this occasion, Robert Lehrbaumer."
Colin Clarke, Fanfare [March/April 2011]
"...the more laid-back Andantino Varié and Four Ländler...manage to smile in these performances... [In] “Lebensstürme...the tight rhythmic control and dynamic intensity which Kwon and Lehrbaumer bring to the piece are welcome; the drama is palpable... MSR’s recording, set down at the Nicholas Music Center of Rutgers University [is] is full, spacious, and accurate..."
Lee Passarella, Audiophile Audition [December 2010]
PROGRAM NOTESPiano music for four hands is often underrated, and for good reason. Within this genre, we encounter many accessible and likable works which, in German, are gathered under the title Gebrauchsmusik (literally, “functional music”). Does this music, usually calling for relatively little pianistic effort (whilst making a good impression with the listener), meet the criteria for “great” or even “worthwhile” music? The genre of Hausmusik (“domestic music”), as we know it, has been shaped largely by the piano duet repertoire. On the one hand, four-hand piano music has provided an enjoyable means of music making; on the other, it has occasionally been perceived as music merely for the dilettante or amateur music lovers. However, we must consider the historical period in which this music was composed, prior to the advent of recording and CDs. Considering this, and acknowledging the resulting passive enjoyment of music through the development of these electronic means, this repertory should be appreciated as both positive and important.
In the case of Schubert’s four hand piano works, we encounter a master-composer who brought the form to its pinnacle. It is not by chance that this foremost representative of the Biedermeier period was the very one who not only achieved the peak of Hausmusik, but gems of complex symphonic music as well. The catalogue of over 600 works Schubert composed during his lifetime of 31 years is astonishing, as is the amount of music he wrote for piano duet. Few realize how enormously rich these works are, both in mass and content - the sheer volume of Schubert’s four hands piano music would occupy no less than eight compact discs.
My colleague Min Kwon and I have found ourselves “swinging to the same tune” and discovered that we greatly enjoy performing with one another. During a number of our consequent Schubert evening performances, the presenters have, expectedly, requested many well-known works. By juxtaposing the well-known compositions with those less familiar, we discovered a fascinating collection of pieces of differing shape and character, providing a glimpse into the broad spectrum of Schubert’s creations.
Performing these programs together, we had the opportunity to experience many aspects of Schubert’s rich musical world that are represented in his music for four hands. We were encouraged then to share this music with our audiences for the purpose of remembering our performances, and for those who wish to enjoy these works at their leisure. From the ever-popular and joyful Military Marches to the tragically intense F minor Fantasy, we present a wide variety of compositions. In addition to these two extremes of cheerful entertainment music and condensed symphonic music, other selections of varying length have been chosen for their fascinating diversity of character. Writing now about this music, I have consciously avoided referring to historical information, which could be easily found by way of one’s own research. Instead, I have chosen to describe those features of which we are most fond. Finally and most importantly, we hope that our listeners become our partners when entering Schubert’s world. [Robert Lehrbaumer]
Korean-born pianist MIN KWON inspires the artistic community with her versatility as soloist, chamber musician, teacher, administrator and journalist. Ms. Kwon maintains a wide range of repertoire, from Rameau and Couperin to Britten and Schoenfield, and has also commissioned and premiered works by several living composers. With more than 25 concerti in her repertoire, Min Kwon has performed with such conductors as James Conlon, Alan Gilbert and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, and has appeared as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Sinfonietta; Manhattan Chamber Orchestra; Atlanta, North Carolina and Fort Worth symphonies; Wiener Residenz Orchester; Bucharest Symphony; Venezuela and Mexico symphonies and all of the major orchestras in Korea: KBS Orchestra; Seoul, Puchon, and Daejun Philharmonic Orchestras; and the Korean Symphony. Recent performances include recitals in Carnegie Weill Recital Hall, and in London, Sydney and Singapore, and chamber music appearances in Vienna, Prague and Curacao. Ms. Kwon has appeared at festivals of Aspen, Ravinia, Caramoor, Cape & Islands, Kuhmo, Freiburg, Prague and Salzburg. An avid chamber musician, Min Kwon has collaborated with Leif Ove Andsnes, Edward Auer, William Bolcom, Paul Neubauer, Hagai Shaham, Arnold Steinhardt and others, as well as with principals of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre National de France and Czech Philharmonic. Together with Robert Lehrbaumer, she is Co-Director of Vienna ConcertoFest, a festival of concerti for instrumental soloists and orchestra in Austria, and Founder and Director of The Center for Musical Excellence, a nonprofit school and forum in New York for international pianists. Ms. Kwon maintains a busy performance schedule as well as a full-time studio of gifted international pianists at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University where she serves as Associate Professor of Music. As a sought-after teacher, she has been a guest professor at noted institutions worldwide, including ones in England, Austria, Finland, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Korea and in the United States. A recipient of numerous prizes, Ms. Kwon studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Eleanor Sokoloff and Leon Fleisher, at the Juilliard School with Martin Canin and in Salzburg, Austria with Hans Leygraf. Min Kwon is a Steinway Artist www.minkwon.com
One of Austria’s most remarkable interpreters, conductor, pianist and organist ROBERT LEHRBAUMER started his career at age nine when he made appearances as a pianist in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Since then, he has performed in Europe; in North, Central and South America; in the Far East, South-East Asia; and he has been invited to perform in notable venues including Vienna’s Musikverein, Tokyo’s Suntory-Hall and Carnegie-Hall in New York. Lehrbaumer has appeared as pianist, organist or conductor with the Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bruckner Orchestra Linz, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, Camerata Academica Salzburg, Vienna Chamber Orchestra and with many others. He has worked with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Yehudi Menuhin, Sandor Végh, André Previn and Michel Plasson. Mr. Lehrbaumer has performed with singers Anton Dermota, Walter Berry, Angelika Kirchschlager, Rudolf Schock and Bo Skovhus; with legendary violinist Wolfgang Schneiderhan; with pianists Friedrich Gulda, Philippe Entremont; concertmasters and other members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and many others. At the age of 25, he played a solo recital for an audience of nearly 2000 as part of the “Master Soloists” at the Vienna Konzerthaus, which also featured Abbado, Sinopoli, Previn, Caballé, Brendel. He has participated in numerous festivals, including the Vienna Festival, Salzburg Festival, Brucknerfest (Linz), Carinthian Summer (Ossiach), Lucerne Music Festival, Nuremberg Organ Week, Slovakia Spring Festival, Schubert Festival in Washington D.C. and the Festival Cervantino in Mexico. Robert Lehrbaumer has recorded for radio and television, and has released recordings on the Sony, RCA-Ariola Red Seal, Amadeo, ORF, Belvedere, KKM and Preiser labels. The recipient of numerous prizes in piano and organ competitions as well as a special scholarship from Bösendorfer, Mr. Lehrbaumer currently teaches courses in Austria and abroad, and teaches at universities and similar institutions in Europe and throughout the United States, Mexico and Asia. He is highly active as a juror of international competitions and as an artistic director of festivals. www.lehrbaumer.com
PROGRAMFRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
TROIS MARCHES MILITAIRES, OP.51, D.733 (c.1822)
No.1 in D major - Allegro vivace
No.2 in G major - Allegro molto moderato
No.3 in E-flat major - Allegro moderato
ANDANTINO VARIÉ in B MINOR, OP.84/1 (1827) from “Divertissement on French Motives”, D.823
DUO in A MINOR “LEBENSSTÜRME”, OP.144, D.947 (1828)
FOUR LÄNDLER, D.814 (1824)
E-flat major, A-flat major C minor & C major
FANTASIA in F MINOR, OP.103, D.940 (1828)