Franz Reizenstein Piano Music [3 CD Set]
FRANZ THEODOR REIZENSTEIN was born in Nuremberg on 7 June 1911 into an artistic and musical family who nurtured the gifts as a pianist and as a composer which he displayed from early childhood. In 1930 he went to the Berlin State Academy, studying composition with Paul Hindemith and piano with Leonid Kreutzer. Upon Hitler’s rise to power, he was forced to leave Germany and in 1934 came as a refugee to London where he studied composition with Ralph Vaughan Williams at the Royal College of Music and later took private piano lessons with Solomon.
Following the war Reizenstein built a successful career as a concert pianist, often giving recitals, appearing as a soloist in concertos, and performing as a member of a piano trio, which he founded.
Though a well-respected teacher, Reizenstein was never offered a position as a composition tutor in his adopted country and had to be content instead with appointments as professor of piano at the Royal Academy of Music in 1958 and at the Royal Manchester (now the Royal Northern) College of Music in 1962, posts he held until his untimely death in London at the age of 57 on 15 October 1968.
Reizenstein held a strong and often expressed belief in the importance of giving young musicians the opportunity of playing contemporary music during their early training. His related wish that music teachers would make more use of worthwhile teaching pieces by present-day composers bore furit in a number of pieces for children and inexperienced players that appeared at regular intervals throughout his ouevre. SRCD347
"A pupil of Hindemith, Nuremberg-born Franz Reizenstein (1911-1968) fled from Nazi Germany in 1934 to settle in the UK. A composer of conspicuous gifts and genuine substance, Reizenstein was also an extremely accomplished pianist and left a sizeable body of really fine music for that instrument. Stand-outs here include the two meaty Sonatas (from 1944 and 1964 respectively), a consistently absorbing set of 12 Preludes & Fugues from 1953-54 (directly inspired by his great teacher's magnum opus for piano, Ludus Tonalis), the spooky Scherzo fantastique (1950), colourful suite Zodiac (1964) and hilarious Variations on 'The Lambeth Walk' (a superbly skilful pastiche of Schubert, Wagner, Liszt et al). Martin Jones has a ball with the last-named and indeed his performances throughout silence criticism in their painstaking care and communicative flair. Admirably truthful sound and balance, too. This important and hugely enterprising set from Lyrita comes most urgently recommended." Andrew Achenbach, Classical Ear, February 2015
“Much as the release on CD of the entire Lyrita back catalogue was a cause for rejoicing amongst collectors, in many ways the recent tranche of wholly new recordings is even better news. In the very best traditions of the label, these discs continue to promote little-known British music in performances and recordings of the very highest order… The engineering and production of the disc is first rate - the piano is ideally caught in the generous but not overly reverberant Wyastone acoustic. The microphones do occasionally catch Jones vocalising but to no disturbing degree. As previously mentioned, Paul Conway's extensive and informative liner essay and analysis of the works is exemplary… Individually these are very fine performances technically and musically but when one considers the sheer volume and complexity of this - by definition - unfamiliar music, the appreciation of Jones' achievement increases. Probably the greatest compliment that can be paid this release is that it is one of which Lyrita's founder, Richard Itter would be proud.” Nick Barnard, musicweb-international.com
"This is one of the best of recent productions from Lyrita. I cannot fault anything about it. The liner notes by Paul Conway are absolutely essential reading for a good understanding of this outstanding piano music. Conway has provided a major essay on the composer as well as detailed analysis of each of the works. Martin Jones has taken Franz Reizenstein to heart. He presents this music with deep understanding and clear enthusiasm. The sound recording is superb as to be expected from anything produced by Lyrita. There is no competition here. For anyone wanting the complete (nearly) piano works of Franz Reizenstein, this is the definitive edition. I do not imagine that there will be another competing version of this music in my lifetime." John France, musicweb-international.com