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"Kreisleriana" was the Event of the Evening

Pianist Sontraud Speidel in the Schumann House

By Gunter Duvenbeck

BONN. Oddly, music lovers in Bonn have not been making their discoveries in the Beethovenhalle, the "central" temple of muses recently, but rather in the “periphery” like Duisdorf, or now again in the Schumannhaus in Endenich, where pianist Sontraud Speidel from Karlsruhe played her (official) Bonn debut. Delayed due to illness, it became on Tuesday an event of pianistic mastership and musical empathy for German Romantic piano music.

The artist, who played first in Bonn in November, 1979 as a guest of the Federal Chancellor in the Palais Schaumburg, is reputed in her native land as an “insider tip” for connoisseurs. In the USA and in Russia, where she has made several concert tours, this is known already.

It would seem to be good advice for her to avoid falling entirely into our hectic concert bustle, because both her demeanor and playing seem to be completely free from any superficiality. Love of details, refined with the most delicate tints of sound, is combined with wise arrangement of musical architecture, calm decaying of lyrical moments with heartfelt verve in the dramatic passages. Virtuosity never ends in itself, not even in Czerny’s "Ricordanza" Variations that opened the concert amiably and with exceedingly beautiful sound.

The Boesendorfer piano in the Schumannhaus is rarely heard played so sophisticatedly, and so well adapted to the delicate acoustics of the room. Schumann’s Impromptus op. 5, and Brahms’ Variations op. 9 made obvious that Sontraud Speidel’s interpretation is full of subtle feeling for the sound and expression. Her tempi, often quite slow, were based on a large breath: one could perceive what is "between the notes", as it were.

Performed in this manner, Schumann’s "Kreisleriana" became of course the event of the evening, and indeed Sontraud Speidel’s interpretation of this visionary set was played with abruptly changing moods, so that it approximated the inmost essence of the music.

Also in the dramatic attacks of the fast movements, she controlled the line perfectly, and arranged the music according to its shapes and phrases by dexterous rubatos, as convincing as the lyrical and cantabile sections. Every attentive listener should have noticed that the reason behind making music in such a superior manner, must be both the depth of sensitivity, and intelligence.

Bonner Rundschau

Translation: Dr. Jürgen Rodeland, John Nisbet