A treasure island of piano music — Spiegel Online
The Grand Piano label continues to uncover gems of the piano repertoire. — Fanfare



  • Gottlieb Wallisch, piano

The first volume in this series traced the inter-war craze for carefree dance music in Austria and the Czech Lands (see GP813). This latest album focuses on Germany where jazz-influenced music flourished from the mid-1920s onwards even in the face of some social, political and racial opposition. Cabarets and dancehalls rejected this nationalist resistance and the Weimar Republic rejoiced in a cross-pollination of symphonic jazz and Kunstjazz—a fusion of dance and classical elements. The many previously unrecorded pieces here chart the progress of this vigorous musical rejuvenation.

This recording was made on: Steinway, Model D, number 544063


Hindemith, Paul
Tuttifäntchen, Scene 1: Tanz der Holzpuppen, Foxtrott (version for piano) (1922) (00:02:50)
Bornschein, Eduard
Blues (1927) (00:01:05)
Künneke, Eduard
Der Vetter aus Dingsda, Op. 13, Act II: Sieben Jahre lebt' ich in Batavia - Magdelein, zart und fein (arr. H.J. Vieth for piano as Batavia Fox-Trot) (1921) (00:02:38)
Albert, Eugen d'
Blues (1930) (00:01:59)
Erdmann, Eduard
Fox Trot in C Major (1923) (00:03:04)
Gieseking, Walter
3 Dance Improvisations (1926) (00:07:48 )
No. 1. Tempo di Foxtrot (00:03:22)
No. 2. Schnell (00:02:03)
No. 3. Tempo di Charleston (00:02:20)
Finke, Fidelio Fritz
10 Kinderstücke: No. 10. Shimmy (1927) (00:01:59)
Butting, Max
15 Kurze Klavierstücke, Op. 33: No. 14. Tango (1928) (00:01:26)
Mittmann, Leopold
Konzert Jazz-Suite (1929) (00:05:55 )
I. Charleston (00:01:31)
II. Blues (00:02:27)
III. Hot (00:01:56)
Herbst, Kurt
Jazz-Etüde (1928) (00:03:55)
Sekles, Bernhard
Kleiner Shimmy () (00:00:36)
Niemann, Walter Rudolph
Moderne Tanzsuite, Op. 115 () (00:13:04 )
I. Blues (00:02:15)
II. Valse Boston (00:03:27)
III. Tempo di Charleston (00:02:56)
IV. Tango (00:02:35)
V. Negertanz (00:01:42)
Wolpe, Stefan
6 Klavierstücke (1920-1929): No. 3. Rag-Caprice (1927) (00:01:07)
6 Klavierstücke (1920-1929): No. 4. Tango (1927) (00:03:18)
Weill, Kurt
Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera), Act II: Zuhalterballade (arr. as Tango-Ballade for piano) (1928) (00:02:56)
Goehr, Walter
David Golder (arr. for piano) (1931) (00:03:37 )
Fox Trot (00:01:57)
Tango (00:01:38)
Borris, Siegfried
Quick-Fox (c. 1927-34) (00:01:28)
Tango (c. 1927-34) (00:01:57)
Weill, Kurt
Marie Galante (version for piano) (1934) (00:04:52 )
Scène au Dancing (00:02:23)
Tango, "Youkali" (00:02:28)
Total Time: 01:05:18

The Artist(s)

Gottlieb Wallisch Born in Vienna, Gottlieb Wallisch first appeared on the concert platform when he was seven years old, and at the age of twelve made his debut in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein. A concert directed by Yehudi Menuhin in 1996 launched Wallisch’s international career: accompanied by the Sinfonia Varsovia, the seventeen-year-old pianist performed Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto. Since then Wallisch has received invitations to the world’s most prestigious concert halls and festivals including Carnegie Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, the Cologne Philharmonie, the Tonhalle Zurich, the NCPA in Beijing, the Ruhr Piano Festival, the Beethovenfest in Bonn, the Festivals of Lucerne and Salzburg, December Nights in Moscow, and the Singapore Arts Festival. Conductors with whom he has performed as a soloist include Giuseppe Sinopoli, Sir Neville Marriner, Dennis Russell Davies, Kirill Petrenko, Louis Langrée, Lawrence Foster, Christopher Hogwood, Martin Haselböck and Bruno Weil. Orchestras he has performed with include the Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna Symphony Orchestras, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, the Festival Strings Lucerne, the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra in Budapest, the Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra in Los Angeles, and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra.

The Composer(s)

Eugen d’Albert D’Albert made transcriptions and arrangements for piano, as expected of any virtuoso.
Eduard Bornschein was a music pedagogue who had founded his own conservatory in Saarbrücken.
Siegfried Borris Siegfried Borris was born in Berlin as the son of a Russian Jew who had converted to Catholicism. From 1927 he was a pupil of Hindemith, and from his master he got both a jolly side, and a positive attitude towards craftsmanship and Gebrauchsmusik (‘utility music’). A very prolific composer, he liked to produce for varied instrumental combinations (accordions, mandolin orchestras, Alphorn, etc.).
Max Butting was a prolific author of 10 symphonies and 10 string quartets. He was born and died in Berlin, and was able to survive during the War years by joining the Nazi Party in 1940.
Eduard Erdmann was the youngest of four brothers and began his piano lessons at around the age of eight. A year later Erdmann’s father, who was a lawyer, moved the family to Riga and in 1912 Erdmann began to study with Bror Möllesten, a pupil of Leschetizky. He then had lessons from Jean du Chastain and also received tuition in theory and harmony from the organist of Riga cathedral, Harald Creutzberg.
Fidelio Fritz Finke Fidelio F. Finke, now almost forgotten, but highly respected in his early years, suffered, as happened to a few non-Jewish composers, from his own political unreliability: A Bohemian-German composer, during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, he showed pro-Nazi sympathies, so that, when the Russian troops freed the nation, he was imprisoned and brought to Moscow, where he attempted suicide in 1945. He was then sent to Dresden, where he remained for the rest of his life and career, now as a socialist composer, member of the communist party, and as prolific as ever. His Shimmy is more or less a foxtrot, from which it was musically almost undistinguishable, if not for the fact that the shimmy had some breaks where the music was suspended, or played sotto voce, to allow time for the dancers to shake their shoulders (a feature which is not evident in Finke’s piece).
Gieseking was an incredible sight-reader and had a photographic memory. He is renowned today for his interpretations of Debussy and Ravel, for his impressionistic washes of sound and colour, and particularly for his finely graded sounds from piano to the barely audible. He did, however, have a wide repertoire that included concertos by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, piano sonatas by Scriabin, and works by Schumann, Beethoven, Mozart and Bach. Gieseking also played a great deal of contemporary music by composers such as Busoni, Hindemith, Korngold, Krenek, Poulenc, Pfitzner, Schoenberg and Stravinsky, many of whom dedicated works to him. At his London debut in October 1923 he played Bach’s English Suite in D minor, Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No. 4 Op. 30, and Schumann’s Waldszenen Op. 82, although a critic at the time complained that the programme, ‘chiefly of small movements’, offered no opportunity of testing Gieseking’s interpretative powers. However all the attributes admired in his recordings of Debussy and Ravel were evident back in 1923. ‘Mr Gieseking’s skill is great enough in some ways… and his pianissimo now and then becomes as nearly nothing as is possible to imagine… The Bach was played with perfect clarity and his tone gradations here and in the Debussy pieces were masterly.’
Walter Goehr Walter Goehr was a pupil of Schoenberg and Krenek. A life-long friend of Eisler, and collaborator of Brecht and Feuchtwanger, he was surely one of the busiest musicians for the radio, who also wrote the first radio opera, Malpopita, in 1931. It is not unexpected that he was much sought after also as a movie composer at home as well as abroad, writing, among others, the score for David Golder, a French drama film adapted from Irène Némirowsky’s successful 1929 novel. It had been said that as a musician Walter Goehr could do everything, except write catchy melodies and hits, but the Fox Trot and the amiable Tango debunk this negative myth.
Musicologist and critic Kurt Herbst wrote a thesis on Beethoven, whose last piano sonata – it has been pointed out many times – has elements of ‘protojazz’. Not so strange then, that many Beethoven experts such as Schnabel, Gieseking and Erdmann, found the complex syncopation of jazz as a sort of natural development of modern music.
Paul Hindemith Respected as one of the most distinguished viola players of his time, Hindemith devoted the earlier part of his career to performance, first as a violinist and then as a viola player in the Amar-Hindemith Quartet, while developing his powers as a composer and his distinctive theories of harmony and of the place of the composer in society. His name is particularly associated with the concept of Gebrauchsmusik, and the composer as craftsman. He was prolific in composition and wrote music in a variety of forms. Attacked by the National Socialists, he left his native Germany in 1935, taking leave from the Berlin Musikhochschule where he had served as professor of composition for some eight years. In 1940 he settled in the United States, teaching at Yale University, a position he combined after the War with a similar position at the University of Zurich. He died in his native city of Frankfurt in 1963.
Up to the year 1920 Eduard Künneke’s works were indistinguishable, in tone and setting, from those of the Viennese tradition. However, with Der Vetter aus Dingsda, Op. 13 (‘The Cousin from Nowhere’, Berlin, 1921) he had his first resounding success, also due to the dance music he inserted, and the modern orchestration. For the first time he introduced saxophone, celesta and banjo in operettas. Writing in a late-Romantic and exotic orchestration of popular impact, Künneke proved also to be a born melodist, and the Batavia Fox-Trot is a good example of the catchiness of his music.
Leopold Mittmann had a double life, torn between the classical piano accompaniment and a successful career in light music as a member of the famous quartet (of four pianists) called Erstes Klavier Quartett (or ERKLA). The ERKLA had composer Rio Gebhardt and, later, Franz Mittler as members.
As well as a gifted pianist and composer Walter Niemann was a respected intellectual and author of numerous scholarly and literary works—the most renowned of which was Brahms, published in 1920 then translated into many languages. Meister des Klaviers: Die Pianisten der Gegenwart und der letzen Vergangenheit (Master of the Piano: Past and Present) was published in 1919 and was long considered a classic. He also wrote popular biographies of composers; that of Brahms emphasized the composer’s North German roots at the expense of his later Viennese years. As a reviewer he was often outspoken in his criticism of ‘pathological’ and ‘sensuous’ composers such as Richard Strauss, Mahler and Schoenberg, and was threatened in 1910 with a libel suit by Reger. Conversely, he praised nationalists and folk-influenced composers such as Pfitzner, Sibelius and MacDowell, and was influential in the popularizing of Scandinavian composers in Germany. Following the Second World War, Niemann’s idiom fell out of favour: he died largely neglected in Leipzig on 17 June 1953.
Bernard Sekles Sekles had been Hindemith’s (and Adorno’s) teacher, was also one of the first European composers to use jazz elements in his music, as early as 1919.
Kurt Weill Kurt Weill was an important figure in German musical life during the period of the Weimar Republic. He left Germany in 1933 and later became a citizen of the United States of America, turning his musical attention to compositions for Broadway.
Stefan Wolpe Born in Berlin, Stefan Wolpe studied there at the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory, later leaving home to take refuge in an artists’ commune. He attended Busoni’s master-classes and was involved in the artistic Dadaism movement, also working as an accompanist for silent films and as a bar pianist. At the advent of National Socialism he moved briefly to Vienna, where he had lessons with Berg, and then, by way of Romania, to Palestine. In 1938 he moved to New York, seeking less conservative musical surroundings. In the United States he became an influential teacher at various establishments, continuing his association with leading innovative artists and musicians, his colleagues including John Cage and Lou Harrison. His pupils included Morton Feldman and Charles Wuorinen.


“This is intoxicating fun: a disc of foxtrots from post-World War I Germany. Wallisch’s playing combines virtuosity with the lightest of touches.” – The Arts Desk

“Gottlieb Wallisch plays Hindemith with the easy, relaxed swing of a Joplin rag. Charming!” – Fanfare

“Wallisch performs these pieces and their varying tempos with excellent pianism and grace. … As a follow-up to Volume 1, this new edition is outstanding.” – American Record Guide

“Gottlieb Wallisch is clearly committed to this genre of music. It is played here with swing, verve, and a comprehensive understanding of the technical requirements of this style. There is nothing condescending or patronising.” – MusicWeb International

“One of the year’s most surprising and consistently charming recording projects continues to gather steam. The second volume of the pianist Gottlieb Wallisch’s “20th Century Foxtrots” compendium—this time focused on works by German composers—follows up on the sprightly success of the initial set, which was devoted to works by Austrian and Czech musicians.” – The New York Times

“Fabulous playing, and there are more Wallisch discs to come.” – Yorkshire Post