1949, pianist Alexander Jenner won the "Bösendorfer-Preisflügel"
(Bösendorfer Grand Piano Prize), which was awarded by the famous
Viennese piano manufacturer to the best student. This fact and
early performances put him in the limelight. No wonder he was asked
by Marcel Prawy to make recordings for the Remington label.
Viennese impresario acted on behalf of Don Gabor to produce recordings.
Only in a few cases he would obtain existing radio recordings. Most
of the time he himself arranged recording sessions with specific artists
and orchestras. All to be released on the Remington label.
also made deals with young artists who just had finished their studies
in Vienna. He discovered and contracted pianist Jörg Demus for
several recordings. Prawy also approached young Alexander Jenner:
"Mr. Prawy would ask you to study, say Beethoven's 'Diabelli
Variations', and to be ready in two weeks time for a recording session."
The sessions arranged by Prawy in 1950 produced material to be released
not only on Remington (on which also pianists Frieda Valenzi, Felicitas
Karrer, Hilde Somer, Friedrich Wührer, Hermann Schwertmann, and
Fritz Weidlich played) but the recordings were often released on Gabor's
Plymouth and Merit labels as well.
(Vienna - April 4th, 1929) studied from 1945 on for almost ten years
at the "Musikakademie" in Vienna. During the first three years with
Paul Weingarten, and the years after with Bruno Seidlhofer and Richard
Jenner in the early years of his career when he won prizes,
played jazz with Friedrich Gulda and Joe Zawinul, and recorded
for the Remington label.
Image courtesy Alexander Jenner.
1951 Jenner won the second price at the International Contest of
Geneva (a first prize was not given), and the following year a
second prize at the Viotti Contest in Vercellie (other contestants
were René Pouget from France, Walter Blankenheim from Germany
and Andrej Wasowski from Poland). In that same year he won the "Kranichstein
Music Award for Modern Music Interpretation" (Kranichsteiner Musikpreis
für Neue Musik-Interpretation) in Darmstadt. No wonder Prawy
asked him to record for the Remington label while still further studying.
he had completed his studies in 1957 he participated in yet another
competition: The Rio de Janeiro Contest for Pianists. Other
participants were Sergei Dorensky, Augustin Anievas, Michael Voskresensky,
Nelson Freire and a very young Arthur Moreira-Lima. Jenner won First
Prize and the jury was unanimous in that vote.
those years Alexander Jenner not only played the classics but also
performed music which was not considered standard repertory at the
time. He was the first Austrian pianist to perform Gershwin's
Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F (February 24, 1951) and he gave
the first performance of Strawinsky's 'Petrouchka for Piano
Solo'. As early as 1951 he gave the first performance of the 12 tone
compositions of Hanns Jelinek.
gave the first performance in Austria of the Concerto for Piano and
Orchestra of Aram Khatchaturian. He performed this concerto
also with Khatchaturian conducting. It gave Jenner the opportunity
to discuss the intentions of the composer and the way the Concerto
was to be played.
performance of the Khachaturian Conderto on Classique 11353 / Orbis
81503 clearly shows an approach which differs substantially from
the known recordings of Moura Lympany, Leonard Pennario, Mindru Katz
and Peter Katin, to mention a few. In Jenner's recording the pianist
puts an emphasis on the modernity of the composition. There are accents
not heard in other recordings before. In his recording the Concerto
is less folkloristic and becomes a more serious work of a higher level
one could say. Alexander Jenner is the virtuoso who masters the technique
extremely well. The playing of the cadenzas in all three movements
is exemplary. The beginning of the second movement lets one hear that
the pianist is familiar with the jazz idiom and though there is a
precision about his playing, the setting of the mood is right and
the intensity is very good, though - again - it differs from the recordings
by pianists who sport a more popular, melodic approach. This is nevertheless
a remarkable performance which can be fully enjoyed.
Jenner's interest in modern music is exemplified by his participation
(together with Ensemble "die reihe") in the recording
of the "Zwolftonwerke" (12 Tone Music) of Hanns Jelinek,
supervised by Friedrich Cerha, and by his performance of the
"Castelli Romani" of Austrian composer
Karl Marx on March
28/29, 1982, in the Stefaniensaal of Graz, with the Graz Philharmonic
Orchestra conducted by Peter Schrottner; and by his recording of the
Bartok Concertos. This despite the fact that the classics from the
romantic period - Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, Schumann and Grieg
- dominate his repertory. He performed these composers as a soloist
with the leading orchestras of Europe: Vienna Philharmonic, Munich
Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic
Orchestra and Staatskapelle Dresden.
He traveled to Poland, the Czech Republic, Yugoslavia, Croatia, and
Italy. He performed in Brazil and Japan and gave concerts with Claudio
Abbado, Zubin Mehta, Christoph von Dohnányi,
Wolfgang Sawallisch, Vaclav Neumann,
Mariss Jansons, Isaac Karabtchevsky, and in his early years with legends
like Ernest Ansermet, Josef Krips, Milo von Wawak, Volkmar Andreae,
Paul Kletzki, Rudolf Kempe and Hans Swarowsky.
1969, at the age of 40, Alexander Jenner became a professor at the
"Wiener Musikhochschule"; he conducted master classes and gave courses
in Austria, Japan, Germany, USA, Taiwan, Spain and Latin America.
He also is a valuable jury member at international piano competitions
and he judicated at various competitions, Beethoven (Vienna), Tchaikovsky
(Moscow), Chopin (Warsaw), Busoni (Bolzano), Schubert (Dortmund),
and Schumann (Zwickau), and the Hamamatsu Competiton and other contests
organized in Munich, Tokyo, Cologne, Petria, Sydney and Nagoya. He
received and accepted invitations for the Enesco Competition (2001)
in Bucharest and the Rachmaninoff Competition in Moscow (2002). Alexander
Jenner has been honored with many national and international orders
I talked to Alexander Jenner, he told me about the role of Marcel
Prawy regarding the Remington recordings and he confirmed: "Yes, I
only made two recordings for Remington".
discography is an interesting list of recordings of works in various
styles. It also deserves mention of the recordings of Bartók's
Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 3, released on Compact Disc.
Jenner's discography on Donald Gabor labels:
RLP-199-10: Moonlight Sonata (Ludwig van Beethoven), Polonaise
No. 1, Fantasie Impromptu, Polonaise Op. 53 and Scherzo Op. 39 (Chopin).
On older covers the name of Helmut Roloff is mentioned instead of
Alexander Jenner as pianist of the Beethoven Sonata while the performer
is Alexander Jenner.
Jenner's performance of the Moonlight Sonata was also released on
Plymouth P-12-16 in a coupling with Sonata Pathétique played
by Alfred Kitchin.
Under the heading 'Chopin Melodies' another Plymouth release (P12-20)
contained Jenner's recordings of two Polonaises, Fantasy Impromptu
and Etudes Op. 25. Much later the Etudes were issued on the Paris
label. The pianist's name had been changed into Robert Garand, probably
because the license had expired.
The adagio of the Moonlight Sonata was released on a Bertelsmann
Schallplattenring 10" disc called "Wunschkonzert - Meisterwerke
der Klassik". The liner notes state that Alexander Jenner is
one of the few pianists who unconditionally surrenders himself to
this difficult Beethoven composition. That same disc features a Chopin
Nocturne which was never released on Remington.
Op. 25 (Frederic Chopin).
Warren DeMotte characterized the performances of these studies with
"Jenner is warm and probing."
And music critic
Cecil Smith wrote in New Republic,
April 23, 1951:
Jenner on other labels:
6032 (Special Edition): Sonata Pathétique, Moonlight Sonata,
Appassionata (Ludwig van Beethoven).
419 557: Compositions of Dieter Kaufmann - "Concertomobil für
Violine, Tonbänder und Orchester" - Concertomobile for Violin,
Tapes and Orchestra (with Saschko Gawriloff, violin and the Symphony
Orchestra of the Südwestfunk Baden-Baden conducted by Ernest
Bour), "Für Clara" (Alexander Jenner, piano, and the 'Niederösterreichisches
Tonkünstlerorchester' Wien conducted by Alexander Rahbari),
"Trois Poèmes de Stéphan Mallarmé for voice and
5 instruments" (Noriko Sasaki, soprano, the Austrian Ensemble for
New Music, Klaus Ager, conductor) .
13357 / World Record Club TP 63 / Mace S-9064: Piano Concerto
in A minor (Edward Grieg), Alexander Jenner with the Bavarian Radio
Orchestra conducted by Odd Gruner-Hegge. Two Elegiac Melodies for
String Orchestra with Friedrich Tilligant conducting the Southwest
German Chamber Orchestra.
Schallplattenring Nr. 11033: Piano
concerto No. 5 Op. 73 (Ludwig van Beethoven) with the Orchestra of
the Vienna Concert Society, F. C. (Frederick Charles) Adler, conductor.
Although Bertelsmann Schallplattenring had a contract with Don Gabor,
this recording was not made in cooperation with Remington.
11346 K: Sonatas No. 2, Op. 35, and No. 3, Op. 58 (Frederic Chopin).
11358 K / Realm RM 161 (Oriole Records, London) / World Record Club
ST 213: Piano Concerto No. 2 (Johannes Brahms) with Dean Dixon