Reflections - Klüser
Ars Produktion ARS 38 362
Classical - Instrumental
Franz Schubert/Sergei Rachmaninov: Wohin?
Jörg Widmann: Sonatina facile
Franz Schubert/Leopold Godowsky: An Mignon
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 10 Variations on "Unser dummer Pöbel meint" KV 455
Franz Schubert/Franz Liszt: Die Forelle
Karol Szymanowski: Masques Op. 34
Max Philip Klüser (piano)
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Review by Adrian Quanjer - December 26, 2023
Max Philip Klüser must own more than 10 fingers. At least that is what came to mind when I listened to track one of this new ARS release: An arrangement by Rachmaninoff of ‘Wohin’ taken from Schubert’s song cycle ‘Die schöne Müllerin’. This is indeed a cleverly executed example of what a young and perfectionist pianist can handle. Despite a multitude of notes, Klöser keeps the music airily floating. It sets the tone for what is to follow in Klüser’s ‘Reflections’: Offering “something ‘new’ beyond the most played classical repertoire”, like in his performance of the three Schubert songs ‘remodelled’ in various degrees by Rachmaninoff, Godowski and Liszt, making things sound easier than they in reality are.
Godowski’s arrangement of ‘An Mignon’ is true to type and hence a most enjoyable ‘singing’ piece of work in both arrangement and musical accomplishment. As for Liszt, I’m not so fond of many of his transcriptions, giving a twist to someone else’s brainchild, however intelligently done. A personal matter, surely. However, whilst preferring the simplicity and naughty playfulness of Die Forelle as created by Schubert, I must admit that in Klüser’s reading, Liszt’s variant becomes a rich and pleasingly portrayed ‘Pièce de Concert’.
Things get truly interesting with Jörg Widmann’s ingenious and modernist repackaging of Mozart’s ‘Sonatina Facile’ KV 545. A meticulous print of ‘in’ and ‘out’ or, as Klüser describes it: “ .. a strange dialogue between consciousness and unconsciousness”, which is not ‘facile’ at all. Dedicated to the sure-fingered Mitsuko Uchida, Widmann has included a series of difficult obstacles like quick changes in dynamics, expression and tempi as if to counterbalance simplicity with sophistication, yet building on the same Mozartian stylistic qualities, and ‘stolen’ bits and pieces. In a courageous performance, Klüser gives Widmann’s sonatina all its colours, masterly combining structural insight with musical precision. Good to have it on record.
Another notable feature of the programme is ‘Masques’ by the Ukrainian-born, Karol Szymanowski. With its three parts and over 20 minutes of duration, in my view the main pillar of Klüser’s aptly assembled piano recital. In contrast to ‘something new’, we have here a war horse with ample recordings that are hard to beat. Most recently Krystian Zimerman on DGG. However, in the high-resolution domain, Klüser stands alone. But that’s not the only reason for welcoming his interpretation at the top of sound engineering. He manages the complexities of each of the three parts admirably, taking the listener into the character world of Princess Sheherazade’s fate, Don Juan’s passion, embracing Tristan’s tragicomic adventures.
The ten variations on Gluck's ‘Unser dummer Pöbel meint’ (our stupid P thinks), in the middle of the programme, are for many perhaps better known as 'Tema con variation' from the final movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Orchestral Suite than its original version by Mozart. Klüser does full justice to these cheerful moments bringing not only us but also the Concert Grand in Kulturzentrum Immanuel, Wuppertal, Germany, to life.
It may be recalled that with ARS Produktion a piano sounds like a piano. Something which is not always as obvious as it sounds. It needs a skilful engineer to keep tonal warmth and brilliance in perfect balance giving and allowing a performer to shine, as done here.
A promising start for Max Philip Klüser.
Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.
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