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Van Dieren: Complete Music For Piano Solo

Van Dieren: Complete Music For Piano Solo

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Bernard Van Dieren (1887-1936) was essentially self-taught as a composer, though friendships with Schoenberg, Busoni, Sorabji, Walton, and Lambert all obliquely indicate by association both the technical confidence of his work as well as the variegated colors of his harmonic palette.

He was born in Rotterdam but fell in love with and then married a pupil of Busoni’s, Frida Kindler, who gave the first performances of most of his piano music. While earlier works such as the powerful Toccata approach Schoenbergian atonality in their tightly woven chromaticism, Van Dieren’s world is at root a diatonic one, stretching rather than breaking tonalities with a post-Wagnerian sensibility often comparable to the music of Delius. The composer himself was apparently a pianist of modest ability, but (perhaps not least thanks to Frida Kindler) he writes for the instrument with a formidable array of pianistic technique grounded in his own enduring love of counterpoint.

The most straightforwardly appealing music here is a set of 12 Dutch folk melodies on album 2, followed by a charming little prelude written for Frida’s birthday in 1934 – his last piano work before his death from a long-standing kidney complaint two years later. The pianist Christopher Guild, renowned for his advocacy of lesser-known pianistic voices, is then joined by Dr James Reid-Baxter for the first-ever recording of the Ballad de Villon, in which Van Dieren originally set a prayer to the Virgin for reciter and string quartet, with the instrumental lines later transcribed for the piano by Philip Heseltine. Album 1 features a set of six densely polyphonic ‘Sketches’ in the style of Busoni and a Theme and Variations in the grand Romantic manner.

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Product Description:


  • Release Date: September 23, 2022


  • UPC: 5029365102414


  • Catalog Number: PCL10241


  • Label: Piano Classics


  • Number of Discs: 2


  • Period: 20th Century


  • Composer: Bernard Van Dieren


  • Performer: Christopher Guild