Robert Schumann: Piano Sonata n° 2 in G minor, opus 22 – Kreisleriana, opus 16
Aliya Turetayeva (piano)
Recording: Van Heys Studios, Bedburg-Hau, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (February 16, May 11, July 07 and 18 August, 2019) – 61’26
KNS Classical A/090
Kazakhstan is one of the 15 republics created after the breakdown of the Soviet Union, a land of villages, modern cities, and icy mountain peaks sprawling more than one million square miles with a population of 18 million residents.
Telling, for music lovers, is the fact that it is the only central Asian country with a classical music radio station. A little research on the Internet yielded many interesting facts about the musical heritage of this vast but (to the West) largely unknown country. While we may picture residents of Kazakhstan and its neighbor, Mongolia, taming wild eagles or shooting arrows from horseback, there is a sophisticated culture of literature, art, and traditional, popular and classical music which is starting to attract attention around the world.
One of Kazakhstan’s unofficial ambassadors to the classical world is Aliya Turetayeva, a pianist in her early 30s who is following a rigorous pathway to success as an artist in the classical tradition. She began lessons at the age of five, moved to Europe, and has followed a brilliant course of study (with Professor Pavel Gililov at the Salzburg Mozarteum, and others). She has made appearances in festivals around the world and won prizes in Vienna, New York, and Lisbon. In addition to her performing career, she is now on the piano faculty of the Internationale Akademie für Music in Cologne, Germany.
KNS Classical has just released Ms. Turetayeva’s first album, “Romantic Fantasies”, consisting of Robert Schumann’s Piano Sonata n° 2 in G minor, opus 22 and his Kreisleriana, opus 16. Throughout the album, Ms. Turetayeva provides a consistent interpretative style with impressive emotional maturity. I was very much taken by the beautiful, controlled sound and shining tones she elicits from her instrument.
The Sonata was composed between 1830 and 1838 during the years Schumann struggled with a hand paralysis that waylaid his performance career but led him to compose many of the works we enjoy today.
Turetayeva performed this popular sonata with control, self-confidence, and abundant technical skill. She identified and communicated the unique personality of each movement and wrapped them up neatly in a satisfying conclusion.
The title of the second work, Kreisleriana, was taken from the mercurial character, Kreisler the conductor, created by the author E.T.A. Hoffmann. Composed in only a few days, the eight-movement suite crackles with energy, its moods ranging from the spritely to the moribund, as impressions of the unpredictable Kreisler flicker under the pianist’s touch.
Turetayeva delineates each note crisply, with no unintentional slurs or lazy keys, speaking to the listener in full phrases and well-thought-out musical paragraphs. High notes are struck boldly, and one can sense the pianist’s pleasure as her right hand springs off the upper keys.
In both works, Turetayeva’s playing could benefit from a more pronounced, expressive rubato and a varied emotional temperature, but these are the gifts of age, time, and experience. Any shortcomings in these areas are natural for a disciplined young artist intent on mastering her craft. Schumann sometimes referred to his musical moods as though they were characters in a novel: Florestan (the passionate) and Eusebius (the introspective). While she could unleash a little more of Florestan in her playing, Turetayeva is secure for now in the role of Eusebius and as a cultural advance party bringing Kazakh talent to an international audience.