The music: natural, unobtrusively sophisticated. (Andreas Maurer)
"... high spiritual and emotional presence of his energetic recording" (Doris Kösterke).
The melodic ingenuity that is flodding the chamber music of Friedrich Gernsheim saturates also the piano sonatas, joyful work of his youth. And if his voluble writing that flatters the fingers is without prattle. Concerning the rhythmic structure, one feels that the influences of Beethoven are conciliated with the effervescence and enthusiasm of Mendelssohn. The third piano sonata (1854) culminates in the Adagio which begins with a quiet Choral – the melodic formulas spreading out thereafter wouldn’t surprise if it was Brahms.
The 6 Préludes op. 2, dedicated to the wife ot Théodore Gouvy echoes Chopin and Schumann: The No.1 (un poco lento et sostenuto) curl in divine arpeggios like a far away echo of the last etude while No. 5 (Allegretto vivace et leggiero)would not blemish the “Album for the Youth.” In the manner of an attraction park (miniature park)which presents the monuments of a country on a smaller scale, offering to make the whole tour in a few steps, the piano work of Gernsheim brushes a pleasant panorama of an entire section of the music of the first half of the 19th century. Nothing revolutionary, it is, but we can always meet the inspiration of the composer.
Jens Barnieck underlines, thanks to a colorful and balanced way of playing, the charme of the finally resurged pieces (Jérôme Bastianelli)
... All three pieces/sets are most sympathetically shaped and sounded out by Jens Barnieck. Clearly he has invested of his time and self in producing some very listenable results. He strikes what feels like the adroit note for works that had not seen or heard the light of day probably for upwards of a century.
https://www.wtju.net/friedrich-gernsheim-piano-series-begins-beginning/Toccata Classics launches a survey of Gernsheim’s piano music beginning right at the beginning.
Pianist Jens Barnieck performs two of Gernsheim’s juvenile sonatas and his Op. 2 set of preludes.
Gernsheim started composing at age seven. The two sonatas Barnieck’s carefully reconstructed from manuscripts were written when Gernsheim about 14. The sonatas were written as composition assignments, but there is nothing academic — or juvenile — about them.
The sonatas show a composer strongly influenced by Beethoven, but not imitative of him. Gernsheim’s harmonies seem to look forward to Schumann, giving these works their own voices.
The Six Preludes come much later, written when Gernsheim was 25. He was teaching at the Conservatory at Saarbrücken, working under Ferdinand Hiller. Gernsheim’s preludes superficially resemble Chopin’s, though differences soon become apparent.
Like Chopin, Gernsheim wrote to his pianistic strengths. Throughout the six preludes, there are cascading arpeggios, syncopated cross-rhythms, and large, knuckle-busting chords. And there are quiet, simple passages of great beauty.
Jens Barnieck performs with solid technique and real authority. He knows these works and understands Gernsheim in a way few modern pianists do. That understanding makes these works come alive. And makes me look forward to the rest of this series.
„A tastefully subtle performance was given by Jens Barnieck. Barnieck’s sensitivity for proper balance and dynamic control was outstanding.“
„Played by pianist Jens Barnieck, its simple one-finger melody evolved at great length but never lost its lullaby ambience, remaining for long stretches in the pianissimo range. It was engagingly naive melodically, but sophisticated and subtle rhythmically, with much use of light staccato touch, sudden pauses, unexpected holes in the musical continuum and a generally gossamer texture. One of the later variations in quiet staccato counterpoint was a special pleasure.“ (American premiere of „Variations on an English Lullaby“ by Dirk de Klerk)
„...like Kinderszenen“ or „Songs Without Words“ in the language of Scriabin and Messiaen. Prettiness waxed almost majestic in the final movement, elegantly played by pianist Jens Barnieck.“ (Alexina Louie’s „Music for Piano“)
BADISCHE NEUESTE NACHRICHTEN, Baden-Baden
„ ... a recital with works by Franz Liszt... an exceedingly demanding and rich program. A splendid work of memory and concentration. Berlioz once talked about the unending masses of notes that were created under the hands of Liszt. Barnieck developed these masses of notes with a fascinating technique... Feux follets were presented with equal bravado as were the song transcriptions. ... showed Jens Barnieck technical brilliance and an unusual virtuoso talent.“
THE GRADUATE QUILL, Buffalo
„Jens Barnieck’s intelligent playing helped illuminate the structures of these songs, both locally within each individual number and globally spanning the whole cycle. I was especially taken by the way he held back tempo in Annunciation Over the Shepherds to add dramatic tension, and the way he sustained the long, drawnout crescendo in Annunciation to Mary without loosing steam.“ (Das Marienleben with Sarah Leonard, soprano)
DIE RHEINPFALZ, Kaiserslautern
„Jens Barnieck, who accompanied absolutely congenially at the piano, showed great empathy. In between discrete nuances of expressions and controlled ecstasy, exquisit touch artistry and sensitiv, ritual contemplation, Jens Barnieck proved all shades of concert brilliancy.“ (Song recital with American songs with Kurt Ollmann, baritone)
„The recital was organized by the German-American Institute in Heidelberg. What we heard, was not an egocentric, self-indulgent pianistic show, but the depiction of traditions and developments, of references between artistic work and content ... In Louis Gruenberg’s 'Jazz masks', burlesque arabesques and elegant harmonies à la Gershwin rank around the melody of Jacques Offenbach’s 'Barcarole'. The pianist played it with superb sense of colors, pensive and dreamy. Nobel and classic sounded the Gershwin Preludes. It were little stories, that the pianist told us. ... With the sonata by Aaron Copland, we heard a fascinating piece of American piano literature. ... Of great thrill are the prophetic harmonies, that the pianist formed with utter clearity and brilliance.The motoric rhythms and ostinato figures were almost insisting. Exquisit and in the most beautiful concentration on the tone, the pointillistic and light notes rang to the audience like dripping stars. Performed with fine introspection, we were lead deeply into the realm of magic.The Nocturne by Samuel Barber gave a reminiscence of Rachmaninoff. It was elegantly performed with sensible rubati. ...In 'Watermusic' by John Cage ... we learned, that the message of Cage is the fact, that everything in this world can produce music, not the piano alone. ... The experimental encore, 'The Banshee' by Henry Cowell makes use of the interior of the piano. Spooky sounds with variable pitches were created. That, and the harp-like, plucked tones let the water ghost sing mysterious myths.“ (Henry Cowell „The Banshee“)
MITTELBAYERISCHE ZEITUNG SCHWANDORF
„Jens Barnieck astounded the crowd with the prepared piano. Extraordinary recital...“ (lecture recital on John Cage)
MAINZER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG
„... together with illustrating musical examples, Jens Barnieck showed impressively the wide range of American music of Charles Ives, Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, John Cage and David Del Tredici among other composers.“
„Jens Barnieck, whose dedication is the contemporary music and who is a specialist in American music, stood up for the often underestimated Aaron Copland after the intermission. He did this in an impressive way, that showed rather pianistic understatement than a virtuoso show. Coplands‘ complex piano sonata from 1941 thus unveiled itself as an electrifying work that seemed at times to be inspired by jazzy rhythms. Aaron Copland referred to the American landscape in his music and Jens Barnieck took the audience on a captivating journey.“
DIE RHEINPFALZ, Kaiserslautern:
„The highly concentrated and very expressive pianist Jens Barnieck unfolded the entire richness and melodic and rhythmic refinement. He, for instance, chiseled out the thematic outlines and obvious motivic connections with relentless sharpness and clearity, found evident relations between tempi, characterized the different parts and yet stayed with every precise detail playfully at ease. Thus, his performance was beyond criticism“ (Charles Ives, Piano Sonata No. 1)
„The chamber concert surpassed all expectations ... The unusual theme of the one and a half hour long concert were American lyrics, set to music either by composers who lived and worked in the USA, or who were of novel minds like Antonin Dvorak. The latter became director if the National Conservatory of Music in New York City in 1892 and in 1893 wrote his Nineth Symphony „From the New World“. The concert opened with his folkloristic, accessible „Gipsy Songs“ op. 55. They were followed by five groups of American songs in the original language. In exemplary way, the musicians had provided the organizer with a program brochure with all texts and their translations! Thus, the concert needed no moderation. How helpful that was, became evident in the poems by Emily Dickinson, set to music by Aaron Copland, rather unknown in Germany. Copland took up the art song of the 19th century, as did Charles Ives with his „Memories“. After an intermission bizarre, funny songs were performed even in popular styles like songs of Kurt Weill from his early musicals. A German premiere was the cycle „The Prairie sings“ (2006) of New York based composer Philip Wharton, after poems by Carl Sandburg.
As a music lover, who was confronted with that literature for the first time, you could only effusively applaude both artists in acknowledgement and enthusiasm.
Julia Oesch presented herself as one of the rare artist personalities, that can turn concerts into a key experience thanks to her exquisit vocal artistry, that allows her every possible nuance of expression: Powerful sound, refined dynamic shades, best possible articulation. All that contributed to this unchallenged performance. In the last group, the „Cabaret Songs“ by the 1938 born William Bolcom with their commedian-like texts by Arnold Weinstein, she expanded her scale of expression by sprechstimme, whispering sounds and scenic acting, that brought her performance to a T.
But such vocal top performances can only be successful with the support of a pianist, who knows every detail as well as Jens Barnieck does: He is a tone color magician, who can easily join the pool of well known, great duo partners in the world. Those artists have to be engaged again!“