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Brilliant Piano Début in the Town Hall

Sontraud Speidel Kindles Fireworks

Robert Schumann’s "Grand Sonata" was the climax of a memorable concert

The debut of the new Steinway grand-piano in the town hall was doubly brilliant: first, the possibilities of an instrument with a really breath-taking splendor of sound became obvious, and second, the piano was played by music professor Sontraud Speidel from Karlsruhe with nearly unsurpassable perfection. The concert was an art event par excellence, an occurrence for all listeners, whose expectation was surely exceeded. The reason obviously, was that Sontraud Speidel introduced herself as an exceedingly passionate pianist who surmounts all technical difficulties without any effort, and without becoming addicted to superficial formalism. On the contrary, she gave a subtle personal touch to the concert, also characterized by the self-confidence of an artist who does not make any concession to virtuosity for it's own sake. Beyond all question, the wonderful instrument is a credit for Kulmbach.

The Piano Sonata #18 in Eb Major from Ludwig van Beethoven’s opus 31, which opened the concert, would not need to be mentioned due to its popularity, if the pianist would not have played it in a such willful manner. She brought Beethoven down from his pedestal, and made the composer who is falsely known as a Titan, understandable for the listeners. The artist provided the large work, that virtually transgresses the dimensions of a sonata, the gravity and monumentality which was presumably given to it by the composer. The miscellaneous arabesques - many of them are in the beautiful Menuetto - did not stay alone, also a lot of reflective approach, even bitterness, could be felt. The pianist painted a perplexing and startling portrait of Beethoven in his torn self-estimation, and opposition to his own nature.

This was not very different in the interpretation of Franz Liszt’s Variations on Bach’s theme "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" [Weeping, Crying, Sorrow, Sighing], and the musical reminiscences of the Crucifixus from the b-minor Mass. However, the approach to the “Musique per Piano” by Maurice Ravel, a sonatina in three movements, must be different. The pianist understood the feeling of the composer excellently, also his connection to an art that includes painting. Indeed, music of the “Blue Group” could be heard, a society of artists that never existed again in that combination.

Robert Schumann’s “Great Sonata” in f-minor, subtitled “Concert Without Orchestra”, stood apart. An interpretation of this huge opus like Sontraud Speidel’s will not be heard again too soon. It is an honor for Kulmbach that this concert was played here.

wi., Bayerische Rundschau

Translation: Dr. Jürgen Rodeland, John Nisbet