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Photo: Prof. Corinne Duchesne, 2012

Michael Tsalka

Pianist and Early Keyboard Performer
 

Review of the "Goldberg" variations recording. Michael Unger, American Record Guide, April, 2014: "It is refreshing to hear Bach’s masterpiece performed with two beautiful 18th Century style clavichords recently built by Sebastian Niebler. Israeli-born keyboardist Michael Tsalka chose not to alternate between the two instruments in a systematic way, but rather, in his words, as “an intuitive response to the technical and expressive requirements found in each variation”. The excellent quality of this recording beautifully captures the richness and sweetness of both instruments. Tsalka’s energetic interpretation points out the work’s expressive contrasts. He is most effective with some of the middle variations. For example, the humor-filled Variation 14 is followed by a lyrical Variation 15, whose conclusion beautifully demonstrates the profound dynamic and expressive range of the clavichord and is one of the high points of the record. Variation 25 is also performed in a deeply personal way....It is exciting to hear how Bach’s familiar keyboard works can take on new interpretive meaning when performed on the clavichord, a beloved instrument for domestic music-making in the baroque that is often overlooked today. One hopes for more clavichord recordings to illuminate how well the fine details and expressive contrasts of Bach’s compositions are suited to the instrument".

 

Early Music, Oxford University Press, Francis Knight, April 2014
Türk Keyboard Sonatas, review of CDs 1-4:

"Daniel Gottlob Türk (1750–1813) is today better known as a theorist than a composer (his 1789 Klavierschule is in many ways a more useful guide to learning the clavier than C. P. E. Bach’s equivalent Versuch of 1753) but he has an ideal new advocate in the Stockholm-based performer Michael Tsalka, who has recorded two sets of CDs covering four complete sets of Türk’s sonatas from the 1770s and 80s: Türk: Keyboard sonatas, collections I and II (Grand Piano gp627-28, rec 2010, 157′) and Türk: Easy keyboard sonatas, collections I and II (Grand Piano 2.65 gp629-30, rec 2011, 106′). Every effort is made to provide aural variety, and the first set includes clavichord, spinet, harpsichord, fortepiano and tangent piano, while the second is on harpsichord and three different fortepianos. The instruments are all originals, by important makers including J. H. Silbermann, Kirkman, Kraemer, Späth & Schmahl, Stein, Sodi, and Schudi & Broadwood, and as such the recordings provide not only an important contribution to the later 18th-century recorded canon, but also invaluable aural documentation of nine period keyboards. The two collections on the first set are Türk’s initial foray into the world of the sonata; those of 1776 were published by Breitkopf, and followed a year later by a second set. The second volume finds the composer building his audience, with two sets of Leichte Klaviersonaten (easy keyboard sonatas) dated 1783. His preface to the first volume sagely notes that ‘critics might realize through these works that it is not the smallest of tasks, to compose shortand easy works, without, in the process, becoming ordinary’. The scores are unusually heavily annotated in order to make his meaning clear, something for which modern players interested in performance practice will be duly grateful. This is melodically appealing, cultivated and clearly structured music that was designed to give pleasure and instruction to the amateur players of the day and to their listeners, a function that it can and should still have today".

 

Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (German Radio), 2014: Daniel Gottlob Türk: "Six Keyboard Sonatas for Connoisseurs". Pianist: Michael Tsalka. Label: Grand Piano. CD-Bestellnummer: GP 657 ...."Sein nach wie vor weitgehend unbekanntes Klavierwerk beinhaltet auch einige Sonaten, die Michael Tsalka auf verschiedenen zeitenössischen Tasteninstrumenten vorstellt und die in der beeindruckenden Instrumentensammlung des Metropolitan Museum of Arts zu finden sind – so ein Clavichord von 1763, einer sogenannten Pantaleone, mit einer besonderen Pedaltechnik und verschiedene Klaviere, die die Entwicklung des Hammerklavieres in der zweiten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts demonstrieren. Michael Tsalka ist ein Spezialist für das Spiel auf antiken Hammerflügeln, deren Ansprechverhalten sich signifikant von dem moderner Nachbauten unterscheidet. So gelingt hier ein sehr authentisches Abbild der Klavierkultur, wie es durch die erstaunlich anspruchsvollen Sonaten Türks aufgezeigt wird. Diese kleinen Frühformen der Klaviersonate aus dem mitteldeutschen Raum haben sicher ihre kleinen Unzulänglichkeiten, sind aber anderseits voll von originellen, teils wirklich bezaubernden Einfällen – eine schöne Wiederentdeckung – alles Weltersteinspielungen – spannend umgesetzt"....

 

Türk Keyboard Sonatas, review of all five CDs: ..."Merito di questa espressività, di questo senso di un cammino che porta fino a un’era aurea della musica colta occidentale sta anche e soprattutto nell’interpretazione di Michael Tsalka, il quale, prima di affrontare questa registrazione integrale, si è confrontato a lungo con l’opera e la visione di Türk, penetrando nei minimi risvolti della sua musica. Da qui un’esecuzione che, lungi dall’essere semplicemente calligrafica, esemplifica i sentimenti, le emozioni, gli stati d’animo che vanno oltre la semplice rappresentazione formale e la scelta di diversi strumenti (tutti riconducibili all’essenza timbrica del suono del compositore sassone) permette di esaltarne le molteplicità idiomatiche. Così, grazie a Tsalka possiamo conoscere finalmente, come merita, l’opera di un cosiddetto “minore” (ma “minore” rispetto a chi e a che cosa?), degno rappresentante di un’epoca in piena trasformazione, dai mutamenti repentini, durante la quale la musica del tempo subì una spasmodica accelerazione, nel corso della quale, in poco meno di quarant’anni, nulla fu come prima..." March, VIDEOHIFI.COM, Andrea Bedetti.

 

Türk Keyboard Sonatas, Collections I and II, Grand Piano GP627-28
"Tsalka deserves accolades for this world-premiere recording of twelve of Türk’s forty-eight keyboard sonatas. The University of South Dakota’s National Music Museum provides five different historical instruments—harpsichord, clavichord, tangent piano, spinet, and piano—and the use of this rich variety of keyboards (with their diverse qualities of expression) is a wonderful contribution to the early piano’s discography. Tsalka performs the sonatas from 1776 (Collection I) adroitly and with stylistic integrity. His effective pacing of the Largo e tenero of Sonata No. 3 contrasts with the catchy, energetic third movement of Sonata No. 5. In the 1777 sonatas (Collection II), Tsalka lets us “hear” the rests in the Allegro spirituoso of Sonata No. 5, and he takes a bold approach to the opening movement of Sonata No. 6. With luck, these important discs will stimulate the imagination of contemporary pianists and lead to an increased awareness of Türk's music".
Prof. Roberta Rust © Clavier Companion. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 

...."Tsalka realiseert deze speelwijze op de vier verschillende instrumenten zeer bevredigend, met grote expressie en gevoel voor de totaal verschillende karakters van de sonates én de instrumenten. Het is een raadsel waarom het zo lang geduurd heeft voordat iemand de moeite nam deze muziek te gaan spelen en op te nemen"...
Piano Bulletin, EPTA (European Piano Teachers Association), Netherlands. By Christo Leeli. March, 2014

 

Michael Tsalka records Daniel Gottlob Turk's "Connoisseur" Sonatas
Pamela Hickman Concert Critique blog and "Israeli Early Music Scene", February 2014
.
"...In the opening Allegro con espressione, Tsalka keeps his listener in suspense as he colors, shapes and examines the spirit of each of the erratic and unpredictable gestures, Classical in form and in pianism, yet so personal, we are also exposed to the legacy of the Baroque practice of ornamentation. In the middle Adagio movement, Tsalka operates the mute to create an intimate soundscape. The second movement of Sonata no.4 in G major HEDT.104.8.4 - Grave e pomposo – is very colorful in its effusive “dialogue”, with the following movement – Allegro assai – no less so, treated by Tsalka with a touch of whimsy. Tsalka takes advantage of the crisp and distinctive timbre of this instrument in bringing these pieces alive".

 

Interview on Dutch national radio January 2014: Pianistenuur (mp3)

 

”El resultado es excepcional no sólo por la originalidad tímbrica, que también. Una versión que no dejará indiferente a nadie y fascinará a más que a muchos. Imprescindible, en suma.”
Review of the ”Goldberg” recording for Paladino. Scherzo, Spain, Dec. 2013.

 

”This is a brilliant recording by an artist with a passion. Stepping outside the well-worn path of keyboard music, he creates a performance that make you sit up and listen. Technicality and creativity meet in a beautifully balanced performance.
December, 2013 MusicWeb International

 
…"Tsalka pays great attention to detail; something as simple as parallel octaves are shaped in such a way as to delight the ear…But he deserves even higher praise for his handling of the middle movement (Largo molto e tenero). The rhetoric here proclaims, declaims, complains and explains-we are far beyond Empfindsamkeit...This project is an important event, fine music recorded for the first time, handsomely played…These are discs to listen to from start to finish, and enjoy as one would stroll from artwork to artwork at an exhibition”.
Christa Rakich, Clavichord International, Holland, Nov., 2013
 
...Tsalka's intimately expressive yet deeply intellectual performances here are a compelling testimony to an unjustly forgotten polymath. A further attraction of this cycle is that it constitutes pretty much the entirety of Türk's recorded works"
Art Music Reviews.co.uk, Byzantion, Dec. 2013
 
…"Una versione, questa, che dovrebbe essere il punto di partenza, e non di arrivo, per affrontare l’ascolto del mistero sublime di questa pagine"
CD Classico (Italy), Andrea Bedetti, Sep. 2013: Goldberg Variations, recorded for the Paladino label
 
"The alternations add a further layer of enjoyment to Tsalka's handsome, intuitive readings. He demonstrates a masterly control of dynamics, and is moreover thoroughly attentive to phrasing and tempi in a way that totally explains J.S. and C.P.E.'s faith in the instrument"
Byzantion, Reviews.co.uk, Aug. 2013. Goldberg Variations, recorded for the Paladino label
 
”The enchantment of this recording consisting of Tuerk´s Easy Keyboard Sonatas has many facets…Pianist Michael Tsalka effortlessly performs on four keyboards from the composer´s era…Tsalka has the ability to perform all instruments not only highlighting their characteristic, remarkable, balanced sound, but he is also capable of presenting the sonatas with a strong dramatic and dynamic interpretative illumination. A fascinating recording throughout”
Piano News, Germany, Carsten Duerer, June 2013
Daniel Gottlob Türk, Easy Keyboard Sonatas
 
"Michael Tsalka, who is also completing an edition of the Türk Sonatas, knows the oeuvre of the composer like no other, and performs the music congenially–sometimes playfully, then dreamily and pensively, and of course, with plenty of lively virtuosity"
Bayerischer Rundfunk, Türk Keyboard Sonatas
 
“Michael Tsalka’s recital at the Boston Early Music Festival
was interpretatively revealing...showing almost incredible virtuosity throughout.”
The Berkshire Review, An International Journal for the Arts. New York and Boston. Michael Miller, 2011
 
…"The concert was a smashing success"…
From Global Times, Beijing, China, 2011. By Lin Kan Hsuang
 

 

 

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