RADOLFZELL, 12.11.05

Stormy Applause for Pianist Bela Hartmann and the Last Three Schubert Sonatas at the Villa Bosch

The Transcendental Franz Schubert



Bela Hartmann, on the occasion of the anniversary of Schubert’s death on November 19th, presented the last three piano sonatas. The tightly packed audience responded to the 34 year old pianist from Stuttgart with frenetic applause, rewarding a vision of Schubert of transcendental significance. In this vision, Schubert was anything but a dreamer, he became the vanquisher of the disappointments and diseases of his life. Hartmann approached this music with intelligence and innate talent, centring his interpretation on silence, a silence that seemed sometimes to cry out. Beginning impetuously, the modulations and defiant octaves of the Sonata in C Minor seemed to recall Beethoven, mysterious harmonies and tragic thoughts dominated the Adagio and Minuet, and the final Allegro revealed pensive melodies as balsam for the soul.
Just as the score demands, the optimism and strength of the opening Allegro in the Sonata in A, D 959, descended into despair in the Andantino, bringing complete silence to the audience, a compliment to the pianist, who kept the listeners spellbound. A consummate technique was evident in the pearling leggiero of the Scherzo, Schubert’s inexhaustible inventiveness constantly interrupted by sudden pauses, and the characteristic battle between lyrical hope and menace was perfectly found in the finale.
The culmination of Hartmann’s tribute to Schubert’s tragically flickering journey came with the Sonata in B Flat, D 960. Composed in Schubert’s last year, 1828, it is a document of musical despair. Bela Hartmann succeeded in realising the “Challenge against the flow of music and of time itself”, as Dieter Schnebel put it. The sudden interruptions of phrases, the ever-changing, the graphic images of frozen tears melting in the concluding moments of the Adagio, the strangely jocular in the Scherzo, all this had logical continuity in the hands of Bela Hartmann, and no “commercial sentimentality” (Herbert Marcuse’s phrase) was permitted to disturb the transcendental Franz Schubert.

Trier, Südkurier, 14.11.2005



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