“Anton Bruckner: Piano Works,” a 1994 recording
under the CPO label is an oddity, given how rarely
these pieces are performed. The nine works
contained herein date between 1850 and 1868.
Most of them could be referred to as “student
works,” particularly in light of the length of time
it took Bruckner (1824-1896) to reach his
maturity as a composer.
A couple of Quadrilles are included here, which
was a popular dance form in mid 19th Century
Europe. They’re suited for dancing and seem
like parlor music. In fact, one of them is for
four hands, as is “Drei Kleine Stücke für Klavier
zu 4 Händen” from the same period, which is
about 1854. Other pieces include a “Fantasie”
from 1868, and a “Sonata in G Minor.” In my
opinion, the only “memorable” piece is his
“Erinnerung,” which dates from 1868.
Although this might not be important music, it’s still
good to have heard it, if for no other reason than
to gain a greater understanding of one of the
composers who means so much to me as a
symphonist. Based upon their familiarity with his
“Symphonies” or “Masses,” I defy anyone who
hasn’t heard these pieces to name the composer!
I liked the fact Wolfgang Brunner, joined by
Michael Schopper for the four-hand pieces,
performed the works on a Bösendorfer dating
from 1835 or earlier, whose specifications were
enumerated in the liner notes. He actually used a
“drone unit” with paper during the “Lancier-Quadrille!”
Brunner wrote the informative liner notes in German,
which were also translated into English and French.
Unfortunately, there are a few pieces for solo piano,
such as an “Adagio in F Major,” and a couple of first
movements of “Sonatas,” dating from 1861 and
1862, which aren’t included on this disc. This is a
shame, given its 47-minute running time. Perhaps
the scores weren’t available.
Of course, this is a nice disc for Bruckner “completists.”