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CD Feature/ Christiane Klonz: "Romantische Werke"

img  Tobias

So much has been written about the limitations in “interpreting” a classical work and the last century especially has been rocked by a grim debate about the pros and cons of original practise and a no-compromise stance on individuality. When I talked to Christiane Klonz recently, her thoughts on this subject matter where no different than those of many of her colleagues: That she considered changes to the score as inacceptible, studied both the personal history of the composer as well as the socio-political factors of his era in her preparations before allowing her own personality in. But it is only after hearing her play these “romantic pieces” that the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

To me, the artistic success of this disc corresponds with an initiative Dutch independent cinemas took a while ago. For an entire year, they offered audiences all over the Netherlands the chance to watch the big movie Classics. Their idea was simple: If we only read about them, then the laziness of cultural die-hards and feuilleton journalists would turn mere opinions into dogmas. Likewhise, to Christiane Klonz it is never enough to turn towards common practise or to secondary literature. Klonz goes all the way back, to the roots of the piece. She is aware of the fact the pages of the books she is reading may have withered and that the colours of some pictures may have faded. But it is here that she sees the job of the artist: To come to clear conclusions in the face of an opaque past. Which is why her Schumann, especially the twenty-minute “Faschingsschwank”, sounds so fresh and almost like a new piece. Gone are the cliches (however true they may be) of the depressed bon vivant, of the dreamer, of an ill health and constant forebodings of tragedy. Instead, she portrays him as a man who knew exactly what he was doing, as a vast source of energy, as a romantic – yes – but one who revelled just as much in the pleasures of the now as in those of his mind. The typical naivety associated with interpretations of his work has stepped to the sideline under her directions and made way for a head-on approach. Klonz uses all aspects of her technique to step up the gear in the opening allegro, but she does so only to intensify the cohesive character of the main motive – and never to morph it into a showpiece. Suddenly, even a two minute long “Intermezzo” is not just an “interlude” but a melodically intoxicating work of its own, while the barely one minute long “Arietta” by Grieg for once does not evoke the typical images of nordic nature in bloom, but turns into an intimate miniature that reverberates in one’s imagination long after the last note has died down.

The three Chopin pieces at the end are less surprising, which is obvious in a way. Chopin’s motives are easier to discern and their impact results from the fact that his music will work even if one only touches the surface (one could even claim it works best when nothing but the surface is touched). On the other hand, they integrate themselves well into the program, something not at all self-evident for a composer who liked his music to be at the centre of things. That is also where Christiane Klonz has arrived with this final re-release of her backcatalogue. For there may not be too many mysteries about the art of interpretation on paper any more – but the results of her approach suggest there are plenty left in practise.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Christiane Klonz

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