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Monday, January 14, 2019

Friederich Kuhlau, Sonata in E Flat Major, Sonata in A Minor, Sonatina in C Major

The Classical-to-Early Romantic Era Piano Sonata is a wonderful thing. There are the joys of Papa Haydn, Mozart, early period Beethoven (early for that special point in transition), Schubert, CPE Bach, Kozeluch, Clementi, but one is never truly filled with comprehensive understamding without sampling some of the remarkable piano sonatas of Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832). Why are they and he not better known today? The vagaries of Classical-to-Romantic Era Reception History are not something I studied in school directly and I must admit I come to the music with open ears, some understanding of sonata form, Romantic style practicalities and theories and all the pantheon exposure and a reading of some of the key musicological texts without a huge knowledge of the epoch as an all-embracing whole. Kuhlau was German born but ultimately Danish, so location may play a fate? I'll give you a synopsis of the back cover blurb to the fine release up for discussion, but first what is it? It is Jens Luhr doing an excellent job with the Piano Sonata in E Flat Major, Sonata in A Minor and the Sonatina in C Major (Grand Piano GP797).

Anyway the blurb tells us that "his popular works for flute" helped earn him the sobriquet of "The Danish Beethoven."  All that is fascinating, but in any event and most importantly those not familiar with the Sonatas are in for a very happy surprise with this album. From the very beginning, the E Flat Major Sonata and its unexpected clock chime theme and the unrelentingly masterful treatment of the thematic material in Kuhlau's hands is a bit of a revelation.

All of this music rings true. There is a superior presence behind every movement. Jens Luhr plays it all with poetic grace.

Any lover of solo piano music will find this one hard to resist. It is a great argument for a Kuhlau revival. I certainly would love to hear yet more. In the meantime go confidently into this recording zone. It is all quite top-notch!

1 comment:

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