New album introduces a series of Kuhlau’s piano works
On Friday 7 May a new album is to be released, on which the pianist Marie-Luise Bodendorff takes a fresh look at Kuhlau’s contribution to piano literature with fresh, muscular interpretations.
Friedrich Kuhlau is known as Beethoven’s strongest advocate in Denmark and the man who wrote Elverhøj. But Kuhlau was first and foremost a pianist, one whose works for the instrument have a depth and character of their own. The new album Works for Solo Piano, Vol. 1 is the first of a new series in which pianist Marie-Luise Bodendorff (b. 1983) reassesses Kuhlau’s contribution to the piano literature with fresh, muscular performances of music including the previously unrecorded Divertissement, Op. 37.
Marie-Luise Bodendorff is born in Augsburg, Germany, and ever since she started playing the piano at the age of 5, Kuhlau's music has followed her. The new series of recordings is a cementation of a personal relation to the music which began back when Bodendorff debuted in an adaptation of Kuhlau’s Sonatina in C major, op. 20, which is also to be found on the new album.
A German in Denmark
Friedrich Kuhlau fled from Germany to Copenhagen at the age of 24 to avoid compulsory conscription in Napoleon’s army. His journey northwards proved to be one of the wisest decisions of his career, since he managed to ingratiate himself with Danish musical and aristocratic circles and ended up living the rest of his life in the country as a Danish citizen.
Kuhlau’s music bore all the hallmarks of early Romanticism at a time when Danish music was only just cottoning on to it. His best piano music is melodically rich, explores the full sonority of the instrument and ranges in texture from the delicate to the imposing.
The piano composer Kuhlau
Kuhlau's piano music can be divided into works intended for improving the technique of amateurs, and grand works for accomplished pianists. To the latter category belong his three Sonatinas op. 20, which were probably written for teaching use, and which range from simple charm to more complex miniature pieces. Beethoven’s influence can clearly be heard in his meticulously composed Divertissement in E flat major, op. 37, while his first Piano Sonata in E flat major, op. 4 was written by a young composer well acquainted with the modern piano’s sonorous capabilities and with a sense of musical fashion