Heidi Tsai: „Burgmüller / Schuncke / Hummel“

Heidi Tsai is a musician who stands out thanks to her wide range of talents. She not only regularly gives concerts on the modern grand piano, but also on the harpsichord and the fortepiano. Her concert work has already taken her to music festivals in the United States, Central America, Asia and Europe. Ms Tsai has also worked as a lecturer at Interlochen Center for the Arts, Boston University, the Boston Conservatory, Arizona State University and Indiana University. She currently teaches at the Conservatoire de Musique et Dance in Pau, France. Her specialisms include the harpsichord and early music.

In collaboration with the Funk Foundation and recording studio b-sharp, Heidi Tsai recently recorded a new CD entitled "Burgmüller / Schuncke / Hummel". As the recording’s title suggests, the CD includes works from composers who are scarcely known today. The three pieces are large-scale piano sonatas from the period between 1819 and 1832, a phase in musical history marked by the shift from the so-called ‘classic’ to the ‘romantic’.

As a composer and musician, Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778–1837) stood in the shadow of Ludwig van Beethoven for his whole life. With his Sonata in F-sharp Minor op.81 from 1819, however, he was certainly able to chart his own musical path and largely meet the great sonata composer Beethoven on an equal footing. Robert Schumann assessed the piece as ‘epic and titanic’ and forecast that it would be the only of Hummel’s works to ‘survive’ in the long term.

The Piano Sonata in G Minor op.3 by Ludwig Schuncke (1810–1834) was written in 1832 and is dedicated to Robert Schumann. This should come as no surprise as Schuncke was a close friend of Schumann’s. He tragically died of tuberculosis at the age of just 24. The sonata gives us an idea what a significant and pioneering composer Schuncke could have become had he been blessed with a longer life.

The late publication date (1839) of the Piano Sonata in F-minor op.8 by Norbert Burgmüller (1810–1836) should not belie the fact that we are actually dealing with an early work here. It was Robert Schumann who once aptly remarked : ‘[…] I would, however, like to consider [Burgmüller’s sonata] as having been created at the turning point between youth and manhood, where so many dreams take their leave of us, to make way for reality.’ All of the work’s movements would bear ‘the same dual nature of resignation and vital energy’. In this sense, Burgmüller was indeed a role model for Schumann himself and his dual nature as later personified by Florestan and Eusebius.

Heidi Tsai plays all pieces on a replica Conrad Graf grand piano from the year 1819.

You can find further information in the CD booklet or by watching the current trailer on YouTube.

The finished CD has been commercially available since autumn 2018.