Czerny Anleitung zum Fantasieren a unique recording

Anleitung zum Fantasieren is kind of an odd release. The music here is invaluable. As a listening experience, it can be problematic. But if you’re open to it, also a rewarding one.

Carl Czerny’s Op. 200 is titled a Systematic Introduction to Improvisation on the Pianoforte. It’s a practical how-to manual. In it, Czerny lays out multiple examples of how to improvise. There are sections on concerto cadenzas, fugue improvisation, free-form capriccios, and more.

A performer could use this work to understand the mechanics of improvisation. And then adapt Czerny’s examples to the music they wanted to improvise around.

So how is this as a listening experience? An unusual one, at least for me. Each musical example is self-contained. So each entry has its own beginning, middle, and end. Individually, each entry is quite appealing musically.

Kolja Lessing wisely mixes up the selections rather than playing them in sequence. This provides contrast and gives the release a natural ebb and flow.

Still, it’s a recording I’d recommend sampling from. Like eating popcorn, there’s a point where it’s no longer satisfying.

Lessing is an excellent performer. He delivers each example with a blend of technical proficiency and dramatic showmanship.


If you want insight into the artistry of the 19th Century virtuoso, this disc is for you. It’s also for anyone who enjoys short, showy piano pieces. Like me.

Carl Czerny: Anleitung zum Fantasieren op. 200
Kolja Lessing, Piano
2 CD Set

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