Art Music Reviews .co.uk
Daniel Gottlob Türk (1750-1813): 12 Keyboard Sonatas - Collection I (6 Sonatas) (1776) & Collection II (6 Sonatas) (1777). Sonata no.1 in C [12:19]. Sonata no.2 in B flat [12:46]. Sonata no.3 in D [14:10]. Sonata no.4 in G minor [12:01]. Sonata no.5 in A minor [13:09]. Sonata no.6 in F [13:30]. Sonata no.7 in D minor [14:38]. Sonata no.8 in E flat [14:13]. Sonata no.9 in A [9:51]. Sonata no.10 in G minor [14:04]. Sonata no.11 in C minor [13:39]. Sonata no.12 in A [12:40]. Michael Tsalka (clavichord, spinet, harpsichord, fortepiano, tangent piano). Recorded: National Music Museum, Vermillion, South Dakota, 2-5 August 2010. Released: September 2012. Grand Piano GP 627-28 [77:55] + [79:06] (2 CDs)
Daniel Gottlob Türk (1750-1813): 12 Easy Keyboard Sonatas (1783) - Collection I (6 Sonatas) & Collection II (6 Sonatas). Sonata no.1 in D minor [7:48]. Sonata no.2 in A minor [10:09]. Sonata no.3 in G [7:00]. Sonata no.4 in C [7:59]. Sonata no.5 in E minor [9:45]. Sonata no.6 in D [7:42]. Sonata no.7 in C [9:56]. Sonata no.8 in D [7:56]. Sonata no.9 in E flat [10:13]. Sonata no.10 in G [8:41]. Sonata no.11 in D minor [9:39]. Sonata no.12 in E flat [9:31]. Michael Tsalka (harpsichord, grand piano, upright grand). Recorded: Newton Center, Boston, Massachusetts, 2-5 August 2011. Released: February 2013. Grand Piano GP 629-30 [50:13] + [55:56] (2 CDs)
These two double-discs from Naxos's blue riband Grand Piano brand, released five months apart, are the first volumes in Michael Tsalka's traversal of Daniel Gottlob Türk's 48 published keyboard sonatas. The fact that these are all - astonishingly - premiere recordings is reason enough to send connoisseurs flocking to retailers, but in fact these are a music historian's dream come true: Tsalka performs on nine different and often extremely rare period instruments, several of which were recorded at America's National Music Museum in South Dakota. Thus any possible objection to four solid hours of late-eighteenth century keyboard sonatas is rendered null and void: the sheer variety of tone and tuning, let alone Tsalka's expert reading of Türk's highly expressive, idiomatic music, make these albums essential listening for all lovers of good music in authentic performance.
Türk's name will certainly be familiar to amateur pianists and their teachers, his name at the head of many easy keyboard pieces taken from his pedagogic collection of miniatures, the 'Kleine Handstücke für angehende Klavierspieler'. Türk was taught in Dresden by Gottfried Homilius, himself a pupil of Johann Sebastian Bach, of whose ideas and style there are clear traces in Türk's music.
In the 'Easy Sonatas' Türk "thought of those amateurs who prefer the easy and pleasing elements of art; therefore I composed several movements, that connoisseurs will probably want to ignore: yet these pieces should not be, hopefully, completely overlooked. I do not advise the very beginner to play these sonatas. Occasionally, I have included [difficult] passages in smaller notes which the performer can omit. The critics might realize through these works that it is not the smallest of tasks, to compose short and easy works, without, in the process, becoming ordinary." Needless to say, they are not that easy, even for those amateurs good enough to cope with the more technically difficult passages: for the emotive scope of Türk's sonatas is far from insubstantial. Tsalka notes in this regard that Türk was suspicious of the recently invented Metronome, which he feared might straitjacket the player. The Easy Sonatas, by contrast, contain elaborate guidance notes for performance, not least expressive-dynamic markings like Allegro di molto con zelo e minaccioso and Andante innocentemente. In the sonatas from the 1776 and 1777 Collections, Türk is at his most expansive, his rhetorical yet sensitive music full of melodic, rhythmic and dynamic diversity guaranteed to gratify performer and listener alike.
The following tables neatly summarise the array of instruments employed by Tsalka in these recordings:
|Sonata no.||Instrument||Model||Tuning a'= (Hz)|
|1||spinet||JH Silbermann 1785||415|
|3||fortepiano||AM Thÿm c.1815-20||c.430-35|
|4||tangent piano||Spath & Schmahl c.1780||415|
|5||clavichord||JP Kraemer 1804||390|
|6||fortepiano||AM Thÿm c.1815-20||c.430-35|
|7||clavichord||JP Kraemer 1804||390|
|8||fortepiano||AM Thÿm c.1815-20||c.430-35|
|9||tangent piano||Spath & Schmahl c.1780||415|
|11||clavichord||JP Kraemer 1804||390|
|Sonata no.||Instrument||Model||Tuning a'= (Hz)|
|1||harpsichord||Shudi & Broadwood 1781||415|
|2||grand piano||JA Stein 1784||415|
|3||grand piano||Sodi 1785||415|
|4||upright grand||JA Stein 1820||415|
|5||grand piano||Sodi 1785||415|
|6||harpsichord||Shudi & Broadwood 1781||415|
|7||harpsichord||Shudi & Broadwood 1781||415|
|8||grand piano||JA Stein 1784||415|
|9||grand piano||JA Stein 1784||415|
|10||grand piano||Sodi 1785||415|
|11||upright grand||JA Stein 1820||415|
|12||grand piano||JA Stein 1784||415|
A photograph and description of each instrument used can be found in the notes, which are by Tsalka and the National Music Museum's curator. All have their own quite distinctive sound, delightful except for the Sodi grand on the 1783 collection disc - its clattering typewriter-like action more than hinting at why some industrious eighteenth-century piano-maker decided to improve upon it. The Silbermann spinet of 1785 has a particularly pleasing sound, like an 'ergonomic' version of an archetypal harpsichord; alas it is only heard once. Stein's 1784 horizontal grand has a tone and range that is in many ways superior to the upright grand he built 35 years later, and to the fortepianos that followed, like the Thÿm played by Tsalka. The unusual hybrid sound of the rarely recorded tangent piano will surprise anyone who has never heard one before.