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Love and Passion

By Klaus Trapp

The pianist Sontraud Speidel has been standing up for works of female composers for a long time. The program she played during the Darmstadt Piano Summer in the Centralstation, contained pieces by female composers from the Romantic era. Margareta Danzi was represented with some variations, and Clara Schumann with her four “Pièces fugitives” that are full of contrasts; also Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn with two pieces, and Ilse Fromm-Michael's suite, “Four Dolls”.

In short descriptions, the pianist spoke about the difficult situation of women in earlier times, if they chose the “inappropriate” passion of composing. Speidel pointed out with her poetic and sophisticated piano playing that these compositions are worth listening to. In the case of Fanny Hensel, the virtuoso approach was surprising. These short works were complemented by a sensitive interpretation of Robert Schumann’s “Scenes From Childhood”, and two posthumous pieces by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

After intermission, a singular work followed: the Sonata op. 14 in f minor by Robert Schumann in four movements - also known as “Concerto Without Orchestra”. Before playing, the pianist spoke about the love and passion which is characteristic in this music. Her committed interpretation pointed out the enormous spread of the emotions. Speidel built a great arch, from the simplicity of the Andantino theme [written by Clara] in the variations movement, through the drammatic eruptions in the first and last movements. After the enthusiastic applause, she played two spirited encores: Schumann’s “Phantasy Dance”, and “Spinner’s Song” by Mendelssohn.

Darmstaedter Echo

Translation: Dr. Jürgen Rodeland and John Nisbet