Friedrich Kuhlau, a contemporary and at least casual acquaintance of Beethoven, was a highly regarded instructor and active composer. During his lifetime, he gained significant fame for many compositions for flute, an irony considering Kuhlau did not play the flute. Kuhlau also composed often for the piano, and this Naxos album features the sonatinas of Op. 55 and Op. 88. The 10 short works were likely intended as student or amateur works as their technical demands are somewhat limited and no vast leaps of musical interpretation are generally needed. As such, a performance of them could quite easily become nothing more than trite background music. Enter pianist Jeno Jandó, an artist who has had a relationship with Naxos since its inception and has surveyed virtually all of the piano's standard repertoire with the label. His playing is characteristically solid, clean, and meticulously well articulated. Musically, Jandó neither takes things too seriously nor tosses off lighthearted compositions like the Kuhlau sonatinas as trivial. Rather, Jandó achieves a quite pleasing balance between intensity and joviality. The result is an album that could be used as background music, but is also appropriate for serious, concentrated listening. Naxos' recorded sound here is splendidly clear, warm, and present.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Sonatinas (6) for piano, Op. 55|
|Sonatinas (4) for piano, Op. 88|