Despite his present-day obscurity, during his lifetime Leopold Kozeluch was held in just as high esteem as his contemporaries C.P.E. Bach, Haydn and Beethoven, with some accounts praising him as a more proficient musician than Mozart. At last his music is beginning to attract modern attention, with a large number of scholarly articles and editions having been published in recent years. This release is the first in a new series presenting his keyboard sonatas in full, works which are without doubt the most interesting facet of his output.
Kozeluch wrote over 50 sonatas, the first eight of which are presented here. A composer very much of the Classical tradition, he employs all of the devices typical of this period – broken-chord accompaniments, tremolos, repeated notes and expressive chromaticism – to create a variety of works that are noteworthy for their subtly different emotional shadings and sheer beauty of melodic material, albeit with a deceptively simple quality that makes them all the more memorable. This recording uses a fortepiano, carefully modelled after a 1795 instrument from Vienna that Kozeluch himself could well have played on, which allows for a highly authentic listening experience. Indeed, Kozeluch was a champion of the fortepiano, and these works effectively detail the pioneering compositional style that was permeating keyboard music in Vienna at the time, a style whose development Kozeluch played such an important role in.
An international artist who regularly performs music ranging from Bach to Schoenberg in major venues across Europe, Asia and North America, Jenny Soonjin Kim is also a faculty member at Claremont Graduate University in California (the venue for this recording), where she teaches piano and fortepiano. It is her keen interest in scholarship – particularly historical performance practice – that led to her discovery of Kozeluch; as a specialist in this field, she offers consummate performances that allow us to fully appreciate the remarkable skill of a near-forgotten composer. It should be added that this recording follows in both text and order the superb new edition of the sonatas, made by the late English scholar and musician Christopher Hogwood.
Recorded in 2013 and 2014 in Kresge Chapel, Claremont School of Theology in California.
Notes on the music and the performer.
The start of an exciting series on Brilliant Classics: the Complete Keyboard Sonatas by Kozeluch!
Leopold Kozeluch was in his time a highly regarded, even famous composer, on a par with C.P.E. Bach and even Mozart. His keyboard sonatas, although relatively modest in length, share the same qualities with those of his illustrious contemporaries: strong focus on melody and melodious figuration, vivid and brilliant accompinaments and a genuine expression of feeling, both happy and dramatic. His 50 keyboard sonatas are a true treasure trove of hidden “pianistic” gems!