Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

8 September 2021

Reed Tetzloff, Schumann, Carnaval, Sonata op.11

Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

If  "September Song" is in my head, it is partly because I write these  lines early in September of the current year, and too because pandemic  and climate change can remind us that nobody lives forever. And what of  it? There is while we linger over a cup of coffee sweet music, in this  case the lyrically, expressively alive pianist Reed Tetzloff and his  volume of Schumann gems for solo piano (MP Master Performances 21 001).  It reminds us that great music transcends all everyday concerns and  allows us for a time to commune in tones in a way that makes us somehow  better creatures, for a moment a little immortal as a species? I think  so.


Reed Tetzloff is new to me. This volume however tells me  much about his thoughtful musicality. It is a well chosen Schumann  program that includes an especially well-known referential piano suite,  "Carnaval," and then a lesser-known, fully abstract absolute music essay  in the "Grand Sonata No.1 in F sharp minor, op. 11." Then to cap it off  there are the two fairly brief but most eloquent piano poems "Arabeske  Op. 18" and "Romanze Op. 28, No. 2"


His is a tightly pithy set of  readings, beautifully faithful to Schumann's score, yet no less  expressively vibrant for being carefully correct. It is fitting that we  get Tetzloff's take on the widely performed "Carnaval," since he covers  the very familiar with a  personal sense of balance and a virtuoso  stance that is nonetheless unhurried.


The "Grand Sonata" is in  some ways in a polar opposite direction--less well known, fully  classicist and widely developmental in its attention to form without  sacrificing feeling. Tetzloff gives us an excellent reading of this work  as well, and since there are less versions of this work in recordings  it is perhaps all the more valuable? Well the program would be  unmistakably valuable whether he performed this one or not. Nevertheless  the two works manage to balance one another well, and we are fortunate  to have both versions here to play and replay.


The swirling  passion of "Arabeske" clearly resounds in Tetzloff's imagination and we  get a most lucid outpouring, all we might hope for. The final "Romanze"  has a tenderness and depth that doubtless is a product of composer and  performer communing across the centuries and amplifying one another.


Tetzloff's  rubato is beautifully uncanny, never overwrought, like passages of  music recalled later, after previously hearing them in real-time, so  that the musical present is a kind of storybook past, a "once upon a  time" in musical terms. Moreover his overall sense of pacing and drama  is beautiful and somehow sensible in its "rightness" of phrasing, its  poetry of sound. Do not fail to hear this if you seek exemplary new  voices on the piano. Tetzloff gives us a Schumann that is remarkably  clear of the hackneyed, the over-done, the grandstandingly frenetic. He  negotiates some evergreen musical passages in ways that make you hear  them as if anew. Bravo. Highly recommended.


By Grego Applegate Edwards

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