Schubert/Berg/Liszt – The Wanderer: Seong-Jin Cho (Vinyl 2LP)

$48.00

The Romantic theme of the wanderer, the free spirit undertaking a journey into the self, runs through Seong-Jin Cho’s latest solo album. The globetrotting Korean pianist’s program includes two monuments of the 19th-century repertoire – Schubert’s “Wanderer” Fantasy and Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor. The Wanderer also contains Alban Berg’s Piano Sonata Op. 1, a single-movement work of extraordinary intensity. All three compositions grow from a simple theme or melodic gesture which is then transformed in the course of a voyage of variation, development and discovery.

“This music looks forwards and backwards at once,” notes Seong-Jin Cho. “What fascinates me is the composers’ ability to create great art from just a few elements. The way they develop the work’s entire fabric from a single motif is fascinating. What creativity! What imagination!”

The Fantasie in C major D760, known as the “Wanderer” Fantasy because it quotes from the composer’s eponymous song “Der Wanderer,” dates from 1822. The four-movement work’s invention, emotional range and technical challenges make enormous demands on its performers. “The emphasis should fall on the second word of the title,” says Cho. “The work deals above all with fantasy, with the imagination, and thus with artistic license.”

Liszt’s B minor Sonata, completed in 1853 and dedicated to Robert Schumann, shocked many early audiences with its symphonic scale and revolutionary single-movement form. “It deals with life, love and death, with Mephistopheles and Faust,” Seong-Jin Cho comments. “I see these thirty minutes of music as a life cycle, with the climax in the middle. Playing Liszt is like entering a state of ecstasy.”

Berg’s Piano Sonata, also in B minor, grew from sketches made while he was studying composition with Arnold Schoenberg and was finished in 1909. Cho first discovered the work as a teenager thanks to Glenn Gould’s recording, and went on to study its form and content in depth. “Every detail is magnificently worked out,” he notes; “there are echoes of Wagner, references to Beethoven’s manner, and even to French Impressionism.”

  1. Fantasy in C Major, Op. 15, D. 760 “Wanderer” – Allegro con fuoco ma non troppo
  2. Fantasy in C Major, Op. 15, D. 760 “Wanderer” – Adagio
  3. Fantasy in C Major, Op. 15, D. 760 “Wanderer” – Presto
  4. Fantasy in C Major, Op. 15, D. 760 “Wanderer” – Allegro
  5. Piano Sonata, Op. 1
  6. Piano Sonata in B Minor, S. 178

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