Gerhard FROMMEL (1906-1984)
Piano Sonata no.3 in E, 'Sisina' (Sonata quasi una fantasia, 'Ein Traum'), op.15 (1940-41/1961/1980) [18:47]
Piano Sonata no.2 in F, op.10 (1935) [18:40]
Piano Sonata no.1 in F sharp minor, op.6 (1931/1942) [27:32]
Tatjana Blome (piano)
rec. Radio Berlin-Brandenburg, Germany, February 2009.
GRAND PIANO GP606 [65:01]
There are some interestingly subjective views bound up in Grand Piano's assertion that German composer Gerhard Frommel "rejected vapid pre-war Nationalism and Schoenberg's dodecaphony, finding his voice in individuality and tradition." Politics aside, what this doubtless indicates is that listeners whose tastes sit primarily within the core repertoire need not fear Frommel's music. As annotator Johann Peter Vogel reveals, it "has its origins in a blend of romanticism and a Stravinskyian vitality allied to an expressive plasticity, a catchy melodic sensuality and a springy, dancing rhythmic drive, all of which imbue his music with a distinctive individuality."
In fact, the First Sonata has a somewhat impressionistic, almost French feel, whilst the Second is much more reminiscent of Prokofiev than Stravinsky. Both works then surprise with their sudden Schubertian turns: in the final movement of the First and the opening of the Second. The Third, which has ended up with one of the most long-winded titles on record, is more complex, tonally more nebulous, yet still easily recognisable as coming from the author of the first two sonatas. Its ambiguous ending seems almost to refer to the composer's own role at the time as despatch rider for the German army in Vichy France.
Whilst Frommel may not really be quite as innovative as pianist Tatjana Blome claims, "astound[ing] us with the unpredictable", his music is imaginative to the degree that it quite often has an improvised quality - coming to a sudden stop here, taking an unexpected harmonic turn there. Yet it is always generous to audiences, moderate dissonances punctuating a melodically-inclined flow.
Blome has an impressive discography to her credit, both as soloist and as a chamber musician. She has even recorded Frommel before, on a 2006 centenary disc for Deutsche Grammophon, performing not only his Sonata no.6, but also his double concerto for piano, clarinet and strings op.9 (442 8218). Her previous acquaintance with Frommel lends her interpretations here all the more authority - she is assured, sensitive, communicative. This recital will leave listeners looking forward to the one or two further volumes that will cover Frommel's four remaining sonatas.
The accompanying notes are fairly informative, although the original German in translation comes out rather wordy in places: "The Sonata begins with a Moderato sostenuto followed by a Moderato rubato, a slow section ben sostenuto then a Tempo di Tarantella with an introductory Moderato, ending in a closing Largo [...] instead of being described as being in E major, the tonality is really in E minor ..."
Sound quality is good, as it always is with Grand Piano, although in this Radio Berlin-Brandenburg-made recording it is not particularly spacious or moist.
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Listeners whose tastes sit primarily within the core repertoire need not fear.

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