Notes & Reviews:
With »PROGRAMS V« pianist/composer Stefan Litwin continues his series on telos music recordings with yet another intelligent and unusual repertoire combination. This new CD compiles piano music written during times of social upheaval spanning a full century, beginning with the early 1900s and leading to the immediate period following the attacks on NYC and Washington of 2001. Perhaps best known of all the featured works is Leos Janacek’s Sonata »1. X 1905«, an homage to a Czech student killed during a peaceful demonstration in Brno. On the other hand, Dmitri Shostakovich’s first Piano Sonata from 1926, originally composed to commemorate the Soviet Revolution, is rarely performed today and remains quite unknown, possibly due to its extraordinary technical demands and explosive atonal language. This CD thus represents an important addition to the Shostakovich-Discography in that only very few other recordings of the work exist to-date. Hanns Eisler’s 3rd Piano Sonata, composed during World War II is equally rarely heard, and, as a testimony to one of the darkest periods of the 20th century, demonstrates how a composer could reflect the historical period in a responsible manner. Stefan Litwin’s own composition »Thoreau’s Nightmare« (2003) follows in similar footpaths. Written for one pianist on two instruments and completed only a few days before the outbreak of the Iraq War, this composition reminds the listener of a peaceful American tradition, in particular of Henry D. Thoreau, who in the 19th century had called for civil disobedience in protest of a US government that had abandoned its democratic principles and was pursuing an illegitimate war. As with all CDs of this series, the booklet to PROGRAMS V also includes the transcript of an extensive conversation between Stefan Litwin and WDR Executive Producer Harry Vogt, in which enlightening details of the musical works and their relationship to one another are revealed.