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CD Feature/ Christiane Klonz: "Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Shostakovich"

img  Tobias
Playing the Piano is not unlike acting: Your job is to aim for the highest possible degree of expression with very limited means. Taking this metaphor as a point of departure, Christiane Klonz is taking on at least four different roles on her fourth solo album, entering the minds of Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Shostakovich – a diverse bunch featuring a cornucopia of styles.

As could be expected, even a professional like Klonz has her favourite parts. Bach’s character, for example, fits her like a glove and she slips into it as smoothly as if it were a silken kimono. Her take on the “Partita II c-moll” is airy and effortless and can do without any overt dramatics. Her interpretation is slender and lucid, focussing on transparency in harmonic progressions and clarity in melodic lines. It is an unsentimental performance, which possibly brings out the implicit sentimentality of the material best.

Mozart, too, is a composer whose music has accompanied Klonz for her entire career. To her, his musical personality has little in common with the extrovert savant genial depicted by Milos Forman in “Amadeus”. Instead, she sees him as a man with a great sensibility, as someone whose neural system was susceptible to the smallest external influence. Consequently, her rendition of the “Sonate F-Major, KV 280” is built around the swooningly slow middle movement, an oneiric circle dance between major and minor keys, between hope and despair, rebellion and acceptance.

It takes more time to adjust to her take on the faster-paced outer movements. Klonz enjoys the technical aspects of the music, aiming for fluency and a weightless tone, eschewing both pseudo-Viennese sentimentalities and the typical carefree approach of some colleagues, which mostly ends up sounding forced. On the other hand, it is sometimes hard to refute the impression that this music could do with a little less regularity and grace. Her rendition suggests that Mozart’s was a split personality, which only a slightly schizophrenic stance can fully do justice to.

The same can be said for her Shostakovich, which at first seems to lack a little density and drama in the opening segment, but comes back with a vengeance in the second and third movements. In the “Lento”, Klonz navigates through a black ocean of uncertainty, enigmatically staying clear of the seemingly safe shoreline. In the closing “Allegro”, meanwhile, she pounds the keys as if in a frenzy, dangerously close of loosing it – but always remaining in full control.

You may not agree with everything Klonz does here and I can’t help but feel that it is about time she recorded a more wilfull program. But there is no denying she has managed to lend a unique sound to each and every piece she performs. As soon as the first note of Chopin’s “Grande Polonaise brillante” is struck, you’re suddenly in a world of timbre, of fine nuances and delicate whispers, of sunbeams breaking spectrally on the surface of a quiet lake. That is what playing a role all about – and Klonz proves to be a powerful actor in many different roles.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: claXL Records
Homepage: Christiane Klonz

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