HANS ERICH APOSTEL (1901-1972): 10 Variationen über ein eigenes Thema, Op. 1, 60 Schemen nach Zeichnungen von Alfred Kubin, Op. 13 (First Recordings), Kubiniana - 10 Klavierstücke, Op. 13.
Catalogue Number: 01U042
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: German-born Apostel was a Schönberg pupil, steeped in Viennese tradition, whose music was condemned as 'degenerate art' by the Nazis. He was fascinated by the relationship between music and the visual arts, and he based his Op.1 Variations of 1928 (a number of earlier works having been discarded) on a series of drawings by Kokoschka, depicting two women listening to a concert. (Two of these are reproduced in the booklet; the others can be found easily online, for example here: https://artgallery.yale.edu/collections/objects/54082). The expressions and body language of the women are expertly captured, and Apostel matches the character of the portraits, but also, interestingly, the density of line, relating it to density of texture in his variations. The work is tonal, in a late Romantic, chromatic sense, with a flavour of the expressionism that was in the air in the early 20th century. The other two works, based on a series of ironic, semi-caricatured faces drawn by Alfred Kubin, are intimately related. Kubin's drawings were published as "Sketches. 60 heads from past times", and Apostel produced the larger work based on them between 1937 and 1949; Kubiniana, which was published, takes its material from 60 Schemen; here the composer is closer to the 'absolute music' that he increasingly espoused, but the music is nowhere near dodecaphonic, and both Kubin works, especially Schemen, are expressionist-chromatic in idiom. Schemen, paradoxically, is the more varied and in some ways more interesting work; the features, expressions, angle of head, apparent character of the heads is reflected in character studies - some of them exceedingly brief - which translates aspects of the pictures into musical gestures, as identifiable as the nature of the people depicted. Thérèse Malengreau (piano).