This newly released CD of Schoenberg’s 1982 LP of piano improvisations is like almost nothing else in music. Other musicians improvise, but very few can improvise over so wide a range of musical forms as those with which Schoenberg is in touch with.
PRAISE FOR PIANOWORKS
“Schoenberg is a bright young composer, and his sparkling album Pianoworks is almost 45 minutes of Schoenberg’s solo improvisations, most of them from a concert he gave at Amherst College. He’s a lyrical player with a gift for delicate interlocking melodies and extended single-note runs high up the keyboard . . . On “Gesture,” Schoenberg develops a pretty but slight opening theme and works it up, thickening the textures a bit, varying the dynamics, dotting it with quick runs. At the beginning you’d hardly have thought the little theme could have endured all of the weight. And following “Gesture,” Schoenberg diverges into a piece called “Blue Rag” which isn’t so much a rag as a dirty boogie-woogie with a rolling eight-to-the-bar rhythm and an uplifting bluesy after-hours feeling.”
Ray Murphy, Boston Globe
“Once in a very great while we at Hearts of Space have the experience of hearing a tape someone sent us and being totally blown away. Such was the case with Steven Schoenberg.
This young New England pianist is an artist of brilliance, power, lyricism, and subtlety. He has been compared—erroneously, he feels—to Keith Jarrett (for his improvisational genius) and George Winston (for his melodic skill). But he is even broader—you can hear Mozart and Gershwin, Joplin and Rachmaninoff — within a few phrases Schoenberg moves effortlessly among styles, spanning centuries and traditions. Pianoworks is his first album, 11 pieces recorded in Amherst, MA over two days in December 1983.
Schoenberg is a master improviser, with a gift for deftly interlocking melodies, magically transmuted themes, sudden but smooth shifts in tempo and emotion—all polished, sophisticated, impeccable. “To perfect improvisation,” he says, “is to have the listener feel that the piece is composed.”
Though his technical skill is at times breathtaking, it is the addition of a deep and authentic heart quality, and his ability to project emotions, that make his work irresistible. On Pianoworks, Romance is one of the most tender pieces of music we’ve ever heard. Prayer has not only simple loveliness but a kind of gentle joy.
By no means is all of his album soft and quiet—it ranges from the blues and ragtime to passionate Romanticism, but his music is so good we simply have to bend our definitions of what we offer in this “Spacemusic” catalog. This is a major artist.
At the end of Pianoworks the audience explodes into applause. We bet you’ll do the same.”
Stephen Hill, Hearts of Space
“I think Steven’s music is some of the most incomparably beautiful music I’ve ever heard. When I listen, I am transported . . . to someplace very peaceful. If I were to be banished to an island and could take music, his would be among what I’d choose . . . and if there were only two choices, Schoenberg would be one!”
Lee Thornton, Senior Host, Weekend Edition, All Things Considered, National Public Radio
“Steven Schoenberg’s kaleidoscopic piano speaks with a uniquely American voice. His flowing compositions, laced with stride, folk, modern jazz, and impressionistic styles, burst open into full-scale musical dioramas.”
Tom Regan, Prairie Public Radio