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Jens F. Laurson
Ionarts, August 2015

The Jazz Improvisations are amazingly effective good-mood music, impossibly charming and unabashedly easy on the ears. © 2015 Ionarts Read complete review

Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, December 2009

This is a useful compilation of Schulhoff’s piano works…there is some considerable ground covered and we get the necessarily speculative Jazz Improvisations of 1926, of which more later…The First Sonata was dedicated, of all people, to Thomas Mann…The first movement clusters are well done, and the somewhat Regerian slow movement gets its due, in its staunchly chromatic way. The pugnaciously rollicking finale is the most arresting movement…The Grotesques should be etched deeper and sharper than they are here—the performance of the last is the best of the five…The lightning reactions of the fourth [of the Burlesques] (Leicht und flüchtig) is probably the best interpreted. The Third Sonata ends the first disc, and its dreamlike quasi-improvisatory is adeptly caught as is the dark-hued funeral march that permeates the fourth movement…In the Ironies Margarete Babinsky is joined by Maria Lettberg…The Jazz Improvisations see her teamed with Andreas Wykydal. Schulhoff performed jazz piano duets on Prague radio broadcasts from 1930 until 1935. He composed one part and the second pianist improvised over and around it. Two of the most popular—Butterfly, and Midnight Spooks—are amongst the eight performed here.

James H. North
Fanfare, September 2009

Babinsky, on her own, is a wonderful Schulhoff pianist, realizing all the subtleties even if she is not the last word in virtuosos; only at one brief moment did I feel she was challenged by the music—which is meant as a compliment; the composer was a spectacular keyboard executant, and he wrote most of this music to show off his own skills. © 2009 Fanfare Read complete review

Uncle Dave Lewis, May 2009

As the twenty first century progresses, Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff’s posthumous reputation has grown at an impressive rate. Only reintroduced to the public in the 1990s, Schulhoff’s music has come conspicuously into vogue, mainly in Europe, but audiences everywhere seem to find him especially interesting. And why not? Schulhoff’s music is dry, effervescent, edgy, witty, urbane, sophisticated, and suffused with the energy of the modern age. Phoenix Edition’s Erwin Schulhoff: Solo Piano Works, featuring pianist Margarete Babinsky with the assistance of two other pairs of hands in four-hand works—Maria Lettberg and Andreas Wykydal—brings together a very appealing program of Schulhoff’s piano music, a good deal of it heretofore unknown on recordings. There is considerable concentration on his period of “esques”; suites of pieces that end in the suffix “esque” that date from the end of World War I to about 1920. These are a hodgepodge of different movements that range from rather angular and cubistic miniatures to passages that sound like slightly twisted silent movie accompaniments. The Six Ironies, Op. 34, are mechanistic, Dadaistic, and highly irreverent transformations of popular music rhythms, but the pièce de resistance are the Jazz Improvisations (1930), pieces for which Schulhoff only composed one part, with the other to be improvised. This could be a recipe for disaster, but it isn’t because Babinsky is familiar with the Continental Style and knows not to wander off into territories that would tend to post-date both Schulhoff and his pieces, though secretly one wonders what Keith Jarrett or Chick Corea might do with the improvised part!

Nevertheless, the Phoenix Edition’s recordings are warm, friendly, and reproduce the sound of Babinsky’s piano well, and musically it is hard not to love what’s here…Phoenix Edition’s Erwin Schulhoff: Solo Piano Works is both highly enjoyable and an excellent introduction to the piano music of Schulhoff.

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