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Date: 07.11.2017

Corny Concerto (1962)

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What deep thinker can resist seeing notation as an entity distinct from the music it represents? A copious scribbler, Wittgenstein ruminated on favorite and despised composers, particularly disdaining the music of his time.

Pitch manipulation is rules-based rather than expressive. But by examining his few artistic endeavors, it becomes clear that Wittgenstein could only have been attracted to common-practice tonality, with its codified rules and delineation between ornament and form. Wittgenstein hailed from a musical family.

Corny Concerto (1962) | BFI

His grandparents were wealthy industrialists, the Austrian Carnegies of their time. Two older brothers were destined for careers as keyboard virtuosi before pressures drove them to suicide. Particularly interested in new music, left-handed pianist Paul Wittgenstein commissioned concertos and chamber music from Hindemith, Korngold, Prokofiev, Ravel and Strauss.

Blind organist and composer Josef Labor owed much to Wittgenstein patronage. Paul commissioned his first left-handed concerto from Labor. Schoenberg counted among his students. Ludwig was a close friend, and when visiting Vienna, he would pass significant time, even days, with the aged composer instead of with his family. As an adult, Wittgenstein learned to play the clarinet as part of his teacher-training. Anecdotes relate his untiring obsession with perfect recreations of the classics.

He was a fastidious listener. Acquaintances marveled at his virtuoso whistling. His musical observations are pithily subjective: For quite obviously it took a set of very rare talents to produce this bad music. No one has otherwise identified them, so the attribution stands. The amateur clarinetist probably wrote them down as an accompaniment to a recurring phrase of self-doubt. Hairpins on chords suggest the sketch is for winds or strings. Composer Anthony Powers characterized it thus: He also designed airplane propellers!

At first glance, the house reflects the prevailing unornamented style: He thought deeply about how the house was to be used and experienced.

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The residence features precisely designed window latches, one-of-a-kind door handles, custom-built radiators specified in such a way that no Austrian firm could cast them , and ingenious, asymmetrical floor-tile patterns. Similarly in music, Wittgenstein would only have found a use for a system the details of which enhance an underlying structure. Common-practice tonality is such a system. Precisely specified details find their complement in the rules that manage first and second theme groups, specifying a return to the initial key.

Ornamentation is secondary to proper and effective use of harmony. Presumably, Labor kept to that tradition. Mahler and the expressionist Schoenberg limiting ourselves to Vienna were among the first to thwart common-practice harmony and tease its forms. Harder to characterize are M. Thomas Delehanty and M. Walker for bringing the Sciarrino and Takemitsu to my attention.

Quartet in E flat major for clarinet, violin, cello and piano, Op. Quintet in D major for clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano, Op. Cedille Records CDR http: Like Brahms, Labor makes much of contrasting duple and triple, however with a flexible manner and lighter hand.

The four-movement work proceeds according to Classical plan, though the brief slow movement marked Quasi Fantasia: Adagio, which offers heightened drama recalling stormy Beethoven, introduces the following theme and variations.

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Ignatius, Stamford Hill, London. Priory PRCD http: This Priory collection demonstrates Labor effectively combining melody and harmony in short forms. The preludes and interludes are light and brief, emotional subtlety taking precedence over pompous virtuosity.

The Sonata and Fantasia, Op. Nikolaus in Bad Ischl. The virtuosic Fantasie is a blustery, thankfully brief, multi-part affair. Brahms wrote his chorale preludes as a memorial to Clara Schumann. The Bruckner, a grand romp, was pieced together by Erwin Horn from sketches and other Bruckner works.

The B-minor Sonata, a bit more serious in scope than the two-player Fantasie, demands the most attention. Whether intended or not, this recital leaves one with the impression that late-Romantic German organ music was predominantly secular. Theme and Variations, Op. Gregory Miller hn , Ernest Barretta pno.

The brief notes inform us that Labor was a friend to Paul Wiggenstein [sic!