Piano wereld


Friedrich Kalkbrenner
VSE 05

Nowadays we mainly associate the name Friedrich Kalkbrenner with piano pedagogy. It is usually well known that he was also known as a great performing musician in his own time, but his compositions are rarely or never played. However, they provide a good impression of the elegant, graceful and moody salon music from Paris in the first half of the 19th century. Bart van Sambeek has collected a bouquet of four representative opus numbers and it is certainly worthwhile to play and study this music. The pieces are written in a very pianistic way and are also a good preliminary study for the music of Chopin (who dedicated his first piano concerto to Kalkbrenner): compare, for example, bars 139-147 from the Caprice with Chopin’s opus 10 no. 2.

The fact that publishing this music is no easy feat is evident, for example, from the Polonaise. The theme is a jumpy motif (short-long, short-long, etc.), the short notes of which sound like grace notes. In bars 164-165 some chromaticism suddenly creeps into the theme. We are, in a modulation, on the dominant of C-sharp minor and the melody descends from G-sharp to C-sharp. However: from the third to the fourth beat there is a G sharp twice, connected by an arc, which actually brings the movement to a standstill. That is possible, but seems illogical. The sources do not provide a definitive answer here. What was Kalkbrenner’s intention? Should the second G sharp be a g (falling semitones) or should there be two G sharp notes, but without an arc, so that the movement continues? It remains a guess. Van Sambeek mentions the differences between his source texts and provides a faithful score, but makes no choice. The pianist has to decide for himself here and who knows, maybe one day the autograph will appear.

Maarten Boonstra