Biography in English

Biography in German

Biography in Spanish

Selected Concert Reviews

Selected Solo Recital Repertoire

Concerti List

Master Classes & Lecture Recitals

Live Recordings

Upcoming Performances

CD Releases


Geelvinck International Fortepiano Festival

Across Bridges Piano Summer Academy


Michael Tsalka

Selected Concert Reviews

Michael Tsalka

Credit: Sara Guastevi
Museu de la Música de Barcelona - L'Auditori

JOAN JOSEP GUTIÉRREZ YZQUIERDO Pàgina dedicada a l'activitat musical i a la reflexió i opinions de l'autor a l'entorn de la música i l'educació musical.
Michael Tsalka o la expresividad de la música


Pamela Hickman, article concerning Lady Huang’s Album (CD):

"Lady Huang's Album", a new CD of modern works for one or two harpsichords performed by Diana Weston and Michael Tsalka

“Lady Huang’s Album” - music for one or two harpsichords - is a new and unique recording presenting new music of living composers from Australia, Italy and the Americas and performed by two renowned keyboard artists - Australian-born Diana Weston and Israeli-born Michael Tsalka. Several of the works were written for them.


Four of the works on the recording are written for four hands (with Tsalka playing the primo part in pieces written for two harpsichords), the first being “Tilting at Windmills” (2017) by Australian composer and actress May Howlett (b.1931), a work inspired by Cervantes’ tale of Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza. Of the musical elements suggesting Howlett’s tongue-in-cheek but endearing description of the characters, the Spanish aspect - harmonic and rhythmic - is quite dominant (we even hear what a castanet effect). The composer refers to “the Don’s majestic chords and the squire’s erratic scale passages” in a colourful scene that alternates between gently appealing whimsy and intensity. Another work, this time strongly Australian in subject is “Crimson Rosella”, by musicologist/composer, broadcaster and writer Ann Carr-Boyd (b.1938); this was commissioned by Diana Weston for herself and Michael Tsalka, to be played on two harpsichords. Titled “in honour of one of Australia’s most spectacular and beautiful birds”, the piece consists for four sections, some of its material adapted from earlier works of Carr-Boyd. A mix of tonal and atonal modes, I think I heard the bird’s wing flutterings and bird call motifs. As the work progresses, the potpourri of dances and intensely loaded chords seems to move away from the bird, or does Boyd-Carr perhaps aim to describe the observer’s emotions on viewing the most splendid of parrots with its dramatic, eye-catching markings? Composed in 2016 and dedicated to Tsalka and Weston, “Toccata” by Mexican composer Leonardo Coral (b.1962), opens with small, separate jagged motifs, creating a “harsh dialogue”, in the composer’s own words. This is followed by a more pensive, introspective flowing section before returning to the feisty, teasing energy-infused ideas of the first section, thus to sign out of the masterful, quick-witted miniature.  In the last work for four hands is “3 Stukken a 4 main” (Three Pieces for Four Hands) by Argentinian-born composer, arranger, harpsichordist and organist Pablo Escande (b.1971), the first of the miniatures is a fiery, intense and joyfully brash Capricho. In contrast, the middle piece titled “Naive” mixes harpsichord registers in amiable, cantabile and wistful expression. The final Toccata is invigorating and entertaining in its driving, unrelenting Latin rhythms. I can only agree with Diana Weston, who claims that the skilfully written work “demonstrates the power, colour and vibrancy of the harpsichord supremely well.” In these works, the experience Weston and Tsalka have accrued in performing together is a major factor in what can only be referred to as uncompromising musical collaboration.


The pieces performed by Diana Weston here are all by Australian composers. “Green Leaf for Elke” by prolific composer Elena Kats-Chernin (b. Uzbekistan, 1957) is based on the first movement of her award-winning ballet “Wild Swans” (2002). Written in memory of opera director Elke Neidhardt, “Green Leaf for Elke”, a gently arpeggiated “poem”, touching and reflective in its tonal/modal mix, invites the listener to follow its relaxed harmonic process and join its elegiac course. It is surely no coincidence that recorder player Benjamin Thorn (b.1961), artistic director of the New England Bach Festival and arranger of works by such composers as Strozzi, Castello and Caccini, chose dance movements freely based on the same ground for “Underground Currents” (2010). Referring to the pieces somewhat based on tonality as “creating resonances of chaconnes and passacaglias”, Thorn’s writing comes across as improvisatory in character as it frequently veers off course to the unexpected with the wink of an eye. Originally from New Zealand, Diana Blom (b.1947) moved to Australia in 1969. The four pieces of “Lady Huang’s Album” (1984), from which the disc takes its name, are influenced by music of the ch’in, a seven-string long Chinese zither. In the work, the composer, whose time in Hong Kong and Malaysia has clearly provided the inspiration and background for writing in this style, introduces playing techniques idiomatic to the ch’in and Chinese scales. Blom’s writing is eloquent and sophisticated; Weston’s rendition of the four miniatures, so convincingly indicative of the plucked instrument, is descriptive, subtle and beguiling, enticing the listener into the evocative world of Chinese music and art. A real treat! The piece was dedicated to Mrs. Grace Wei Huang. 


Eclectic in taste, an artist performing from the classical music tradition, through jazzy and tango styles to his own compositions and improvisations, Italian early keyboard player and award-winning composer Gabriele Toia (b.1967) has dedicated “Variations on a Ground” (2016) to Michael Tsalka “as well as to some of the composers who most influenced my music”, of whom he mentions Béla Bartók, Ligeti, Chick Corea, Ennio Morricone and Alban Berg. The 13 variations are based on a ciaccona bass from Vivaldi’s Concerto in G-minor RV 107. The sections, some more harmonic in emphasis, others exploring the countless textural possibilities offered by the harpsichord, form a rich kaleidoscope of musical ideas. In playing that is not simply virtuosic but strategic, sensitive, rich in detail, shapes and imagination, Tsalka inspires and moves as he gives expression to the particular character and mood of each variation of this outstanding piece of music. Harpsichordist and organist Max Yount (b.1938, USA) is well also known as a teacher and composer. Michael Tsalka, whose connection with Yount goes back several years, has premiered works of his. “Sonatine” (2014) is an intense and complex piece, its tripartite construction concluding with a rondo which is, in the composer’s words, “interspersed with jazzy episodes”. Tsalka’s reading of it is sincere, objective and erudite but it is also entertaining (we remain unaware of its original programmatic content) as its personal appeal grows on one with listening. 

Recorded in 2017 for the Wirripang Label, Australia, listeners will appreciate the disc’s lively sound quality. Bristling with interest and variety, Diana Weston and Michael Tsalka present its selection of contemporary works in performance that is profound, discerning and insightful.


Interview for Radio Fine Music, Sydney’s Classical Radio Station.

Review by Radio Fine Music, Sydney’s Classical Radio Station,
concerning Lady Huang’s Album: Diana Weston, Michael Tsalka, a recently released CD by Wirripang (Australia):

Review by Classikon (Sydney),
concerning Michael Tsalka and Thoroughbass concert, Mossman Art Gallery, Sydney:

Award winning International keyboard performer Michael Tsalka to appear in Sydney

“Michael Tsalka’s recital at the Boston Early Music Festival was interpretatively revealing . . . showing almost incredible virtuosity throughout”
(The Berkshire Review, International Journal for the Arts, N.Y. and Boston)
Despite maintaining a hectic global schedule, Sydney audiences will have the chance to experience first hand the virtuosity of Israeli-born performer, teacher and scholar, Michael Tsalka, when he appears on 28 April 2018 at the Mosman Art Gallery.
In a unique program entitled “Latino Love Affair”, Tsalka will join Sydney-based early music ensemble Thoroughbass led by harpsichordist and Artistic Director, Diana Weston, exploring the dynamic works of South American, Italian and Australian composers, Scarlatti, Piazzolla, Escande, Howlett and others.
Trained in the USA, Michael Tsalka has been equally acclaimed for performances on modern piano, fortepiano, clavichord, organ and harpsichord. He is widely recognized and admired for showcasing lesser-known early and contemporary composers and performing known works on unexpected instruments. “I have always been attracted to uncommon, unique repertoire, and believe the performer and level of musicianship are of first importance and not necessarily the instrument being played.”
For the Paladino label, Tsalka transcribed and recorded the Goldberg Variations on clavichord – a first on Bach’s favoured instrument. Michael states, “I wanted to examine whether it was possible to express the flamboyance and wild imagination of Bach and his variation cycle within the limited dynamic range of this instrument.” Awarded Music Web International’s Recording of the Year for 2013, critics described Tsalka’s playing on the CD as “bristling with creativity and emotion” and “a brilliant recording by an artist with a passion”, sentiments frequently reported of Tsalka’s live and recorded performances.
The Sydney performance will also see the launch of his latest CD, “Lady Huang’s Album” - a collection of contemporary compositions from Australia, Italy, Argentina and the US, all for harpsichord. The CD is published by Australia’s Wirripang Label, and was recorded at Western Sydney University.
Michael is currently the Artistic Director of the Geelvinck Fortepiano Festival in The Netherlands, and Across Bridges International Piano Summer Academy and Festival held in China and Spain. A dedicated and experienced teacher, he will also be conducting a master class for keyboard students at the Sydney Conservatorium and making a guest appearance at the 2018 New England Bach Festival.
For lovers of extraordinary musical talent, originality and authenticity, this is a must-see event!
Sat April 28, 2018 at 5.00pm Mosman Art Gallery
Thoroughbass Ensemble: Violin - Shaun Warden, Dr Shaun Ng, Viola - Tara Hashambuoy, Cello - Lucy Cormack, Angus Ryan

Pianist tickled pink to tickle the ivories with chamber orchestra in refurbished centre

Pianist Michael Tsalka will be performing the first concert at the refurbished auditorium, at the Nelson Centre of ...BRADEN FASTIER
Pianist Michael Tsalka will be performing the first concert at the refurbished auditorium, at the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts.
The first concert in the Nelson School of Music auditorium will take place at the end of April, almost five years after the building was abruptly closed.
Israeli pianist Michael Tsalka is the first musician to play in the earthquake strengthened space, which also holds the refurbished Cawthron organ.
It's also Tsalka's final concert in Nelson, as he finishes his artist in residence at the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts, formerly the Nelson School of Music.
He has won prizes and awards in Europe, the USA, Middle East, Asia and Latin America for his wide span of repertoire ranging from early Baroque music to modern piano.
Tsalka recently performed at the Boston Early Music Festival, the Forbidden City Hall in Beijing, the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
"The final concert will conclude a two-month artist-in-residency at the NCMA, in which I have performed seven chamber recitals with marvellous local musicians.
"I also have had the opportunity of working with piano teachers and students in public master classes and in private lessons."
Tsalka said chamber music had always been one of his greatest passions.
"One of the main reasons for my residency was to work and to coach the musicians of the newly formed NCMA Chamber Orchestra.
"I have been studying, playing, and recording this repertoire for many years. Entering into a musical dialogue with these fine musicians and imparting my specialised knowledge with them has been a grand pleasure."
Nelson Centre of Musical Arts director James Donaldson said they were excited about Tsalka performing the first concert in the new space.
"Michael of course was originally some years ago booked to come perform the opening ceremony.
"Building projects being what they are it's several years after that, we had to rethink it."
Tsalka is performing his final residency concert together with the newly formed Nelson School of Music Chamber Orchestra.
The concert will feature Amadeus Mozart Piano Concerto no 12 in A and Johann Sebastian Bach Brandenburg Concerto no 3 in G.
Donaldson said Tsalka was an "extraordinary musician, a really colourful and inventive performer".
"Having him here has helped us revitalise our audiences and build them up again.
"It would have been a real shame if he couldn't perform that final concert in the new auditorium."
In December 2013 the historic auditorium was closed when an assessment saw it classified as an earthquake prone building.
Four-and-a-half years and about $9.5 million dollars further, the project is now almost finished.
It focused on restoring the original facade, earthquake strengthen the auditorium and general upgrades and improvements, including an environmentally controlled storage room for the Steinway piano.
Donaldson said having the first concert in the auditorium on April 21 took some "negotiating" with contractors, but they were "pretty confident" it would be ready by then.
"There may be the odd bit of paint work to do, bit of scaffolding up front."
He said restoring the auditorium to its original state was an important part of the refurbishment, which included paintwork in a "sensitive colour" to the original design back in 1894.
"What strikes me when I walk into the foyer is the respect for the old historic heritage auditorium.
"You walk through wonderful new fresh glass doors and you'll see right down the left hand side a huge glass wall and ... behind that the original brick wall from the auditorium. It's a really neat idea."
Donaldson said he hoped the acoustics of the auditorium would not be different to what it was like before.
"They're going through a great deal of trouble to make sure the auditorium itself retains the wonderful acoustic that's been quite renowned throughout New Zealand and the world.
"A lot of time and effort is being spent to make sure it sounds as good as it always did."
Michael Tsalka is performing his final residency concert together with the newly formed Nelson School of Music Chamber Orchestra at the Nelson School of Music Auditorium on April 21 from 7:30pm to 8:30pm, no intermission. Entry by paper koha.

Harpsichord - Diana Weston & Guest Artist, Dr Michael TsalkaA review
concerning Lady Huang’ Album, recently released by Wirripang (Australia):
Written by Stephen Pleskun (editor of 'A Chronological History of Australian Composers and their Compositions' volumes 1, 2, 3 & 4), the CD presents New Music for Harpsichord by distinguished composers from Australia, Mexico, Italy, Argentina, and the U.S.A. 


“Lady Huang’s Album

New Music for Harpsichord performed by Michael Tsalka and Diana Weston

This recently released compact disc has a resemblance to Modeste Musorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ piano suite except that instead of all the works being pictorial, some are abstract. And, of course, each composer uses individual sensibilities to craft every composition.

A short introduction opens May Howlett’s pictorial ‘Tilting at Windmills’ before jaunty episodes evoke the sunny Spain depicted by Cervantes, with one harpsichord playing the regal Don Quixote and the other the querulous Sancho Panza. It is music of imagery throughout.

The ‘Variations on a Ground’ by Gabriele Tola begin gently and steadily. The harpsichord plays a muted segment before cascades of notes thunder downwards then upwards in successive variations. It is a virtuosic piece that has a musical universality to it, and could have been placed comfortably in a progressive rock album of the early 1970’s.

Elena Kat-Chernin’s ‘Green Leaf for Elke’ affords the listener a somewhat introspective contrast with a sparse, minimalistic texture that evokes placid wonderment.

‘Sonatine’ by Max Yount is a formal composition that has its first movement built on the opening motifs. It has a quasi-Baroque feel to it but clearly is composed with a 21st century sensibility.

A reflective lament opens ‘Lady Huang’s Album’ by Diana Blom before stately pentatonic melodies are accompanied sparingly to bring forth evocations of ancient Cathay.

The bird song of the Crimson Rosella is utilised in the second movement of the following eponymous piece. The other three movements re-employ musical material from Ann Carr-Boyd’s previous works, a practice that accomplished composers have used for centuries but essentially, the rewriting has to work. Ann’s sounds as though that is the way it should have been in the first place.

The harpsichords begin in a cantankerous mood expounding Leonardo Coral’s ‘Toccata’ (a genre to which the harpsichord, with its astringent sound, is suited eminently). There is respite in the short slow movement that follows but the bickering recommences before it is brought to an abrupt end.

Benjamin Thorn’s ‘Underground Currents’ are three majestic dance like compositions that envisage earlier musical times.

The final selection by Pablo Escande begins with a toccata that explodes with frenetic energy. A very lyrical piece, ‘Naive’ brings calmness after which a ‘Capricho’ takes the listener on a joy ride through multiple key changes.

The harpsichord is an instrument built on a simple principle: a set of levers that pluck tuned strings. One could be forgiven to think that there would be sameness to any work composed for it; but one would be wrong.

This recording demonstrates how diverse, interesting and engaging the instrument can be when compositions by imaginative composers are performed by outstanding practitioners”


Recent reviews concerning Naxos Classics CD release, Tibbles/Tsalka (Oct.- Feb.)

Pianist, January 2018

De classicist Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf was—zo lezen we in het tekstboekje—vanaf zijn vroegste jeugd verkikkerd op de schoonheid in de poëzie van Ovidius’ Metamorfosen. Rond 1781 vond dit een muzikale weerslag in de compositie van vijftien symfonieën—een ambitieus project. Uitgevers gaven echter niet thuis, waardoor het leeuwendeel verloren is gegaan. Alsof de componist dit voorvoelde maakte hij arrangement voor piano vierhandig, gelukkig maar, want het is interessant materiaal. Dat van Von Dittersdorf van iedere symfonie op deze cd een eigenhandige inleiding is bijgeleverd maakt het daarnaast mooi inzichte… © 2018 Pianist


mozartcircle, December 2017

Three missing Ovid Symphonies by Dittersdorf became three 4-hands piano sonatas. The original orchestral score is still missing, like the other 6 symphonies. We have only 9 symphonies out of the original 15 symphonies.

Dittersdorf was on friendly terms with Mozart and Mozart used his Symphonies and Oratorios as Style reference. © 2018 mozartcircle

Albert Ferrer Flamarich
, November 2017
Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739–1799) pertany a la categoria d’aquells compositors “desconeguts per a descobrir”. Violinista, crític, compositor i autor d’escrits teòrics (amb una biografia pòstuma), va ser el típic exponent del segle XVIII austríac tardà. Va escriure amb un estil elegant, influït operísticament pel model italià (conèixer La serva padrona de Pergolesi va ser una experiència que el va marcar) i per Gluck en el llenguatge orquestral, sobre tot en la il·lustració d’un concepte programàtic i referències extramusicals en algunes simfonies. Autor de composicions peculiars com la Simfonía al gusto de cinco naciones (1767) en cinc moviments amb referències a cinc escoles europees, el 1781 Dittersdorf va projectar una sèrie de simfonies agrupades de cinc en cinc i basades en les Metamorfosis d’Ovidi. D’aquestes només en va completar les sis primeres (enregistrades per Naxos) i en va deixar unes altres tres en versió per a piano a quatre mans, que són les presentades en aquest disc.

La seva idea inicial era acompanyar aquestes simfonies d’unes traduccions de l’obra original, un prefaci per a cada moviment precedit per un gravat d’un artista de l’època, i d’una cita en llatí suggerint—segurament per primer cop—una experiència sinestèsica. Però, tot això va esdevenir un projecte fallit perquè Artaria no va acceptar l’oferta. Va ser un competidor d’aquesta editorial vienesa que anys desprès va publicar les primeres series de simfonies. Segurament es varen donar a conèixer el maig de 1786 gràcies a la intervenció de l’apòstol musical que va ser el Baró van Swieten. Un segon concert va oferir-se el juliol, aparentment amb altres simfonies inspirades en Ovidi, tot i que es desconeix si varen ser les mateixes, segons ens indiquen les completes notes de carpeta signades per Allan Bradley. Unes notes que, per cert, inclouen els resums dels capítols de les Metamorfosis en les quals s’inspiren, i una breu relació programàtica entre la música i el text, tot i que resulten molt escasses en l’anàlisi musical. I és que aquestes simfonies participen de la fascinació per l’Antiguitat que va impregnar els àmbits cultes europeus durant la segona meitat del segle XVIII, especialment germànics i britànics, després del descobriment de les ruïnes de Pompeia, Herculà i Paestum i que va ser canalitzada per les investigacions de figures com Winckelmann. Des de llavors es va anar formant un neoclassicisme que va tractar l’antiguitat no només com una font d’inspiració si no també com a model i norma del credo artístic.

Una part del material sobre el qual es basen aquestes simfonies de Dittersdorf va ser escrit abans del 1781 i modelat per a configurar aquestes tres obres acolorides, amb molt de contrast dins del sinfonisme canònic però amb aspectes d’un cert progressisme. Per una banda, Dittersdorf construeix a partir de la forma sonata (amb introducció lenta o sense) i el principi compositiu de repetició, contrast i divergència temàtica, a més d’integrar el minuet amb formes desfasades per a l’època com la chacona que tanca la Simfonia “Jason, que es va endur el velló d’or” amb la que recrea el suggeriment programàtic pertinent. D’altra banda, i per motius semblants, resol amb una secció en Adagio l’últim moviment de la Sinfonía “Ajax et Ulysse” i la dedicada a Heracles. També juga amb el passatges contrapuntístics elaborats i estableix una dialèctica entre tutti en fortíssimdavant les línees solistes, ús de sforzandi i contrastos de textures sense desmarcar-se de l’estètica del sentiment en voga i de l’influx del Sturm und Drang. Igualment interessant és la Simfonia Heracles amb el proteic Allegro vivace inicial i un moviment conclusiu en el que l’inici juga amb una construcció fugada com a símil del verí mortal circulant pel cos de l’heroi. Per a la conclusió, Dittersdorf torna a escollir un Adagio de reminiscències gluckianes com en el segon moviment de la simfonia dedicada a Ajax i Ulisses.

Amb un fortepiano Walter de 1801, els pianistes James Tibbles i Michael Tsalka, arrodoneixen la proposta artística amb molt bona captació de so: riquesa tímbric, claredat de textures, intensitat en el fraseig i encaix dels accents rítmics, contrastos acusat sense paroxisme, indubtable musicalitat, varietat idiomàtica i un entusiasme i frescor que validen a Dittersforf com un compositor suggerent i creatiu, l’obra del qual mereix molta més difusió que la rebuda fins ara. Sens dubte, és un dels molts bons discs comercialitzats pel segell Naxos aquest 2017. © 2017 Catclàssics

Reviews of Hamlet, James/Tsalka:
SEPTEMBER 15, 2017
Silent Hamlet

“Many have had a go at explaining the madness of Hamlet, not least generations of high school and college students faced with faking their way through that perennial exam essay question: Is the prince’s insanity real or is it feigned? Freud claimed the young Dane suffered from a complex he named after another King’s son, Oedipus. The royal kids from the mythic Thebes and rotten Denmark shared many of the same neuroses, but in the intervening years society had vigorously developed its systems of repression, thus giving different forms to the expression of madness.

Among the legion of academics and amateurs who have tackled the problem of the moody Dane’s behavior, was the nineteenth-century railroad executive and book collector, Edward Payson Vining. His theory was far more radical than that of his contemporary Freud. In his Mystery of Hamlet of 1881, Vining proposed an alluring thesis: Hamlet was a woman, her gender hidden by her parents in order to ensure the male succession to the Danish throne. Vining had a penchant for provocative claims. The slender Hamlet volume of one-hundred pages was followed by a weighty 1885 book eight times longer and sporting a title that hardly boosted faith in the railroad man’s first literary effort nor in his own control over his intellectual faculties: Inglorious Columbus; Or, Evidence that a Party of Buddhist Monks from Hui Shwan Afghanistan Discovered America in the Fifth Century A. D. Sandwiched between these studies was 1884’s The Necessity for a Classification of Freight and the Principles Upon Which It is Based, a rather less fanciful publication that may have been aimed at bolstering the idea that Vining was not off his rocker. It was clear where Vining’s interests lay. The railroad tract was a pamphlet of just ten pages.

Vining understood that his historical and literary ideas might be frowned upon. There must have been more than a little whispering that he, not Hamlet, was the one who should be sent to the booby hatch. Vining himself struck a defensive tone at the very outset of his Hamlet book: “The views set forth in this little work suffer not only from the lack of literary experience upon the part of him by whom they are presented, but they are in themselves so different from those which have usually been held in relation to the character of Hamlet, that but little favor can be hoped for them.” This fear proved to be fabulously false, though not in the way Vining might have expected. Indeed, Vining did not live to see the extent of his theory’s eventual fame. The year after his death in 1920, a film version of his theories hit world cinemas with the Danish actress Asta Nielsen in the lead role. Nielsen was the first global movie star, the best paid and the most highly acclaimed.

The list of women who played Hamlet before Nielsen was itself long and illustrious, beginning in the late eighteenth century with the celebrated English actress Sara Siddons and extending into Vining’s own day, most brightly with Sarah Bernhardt, whose performance was decried by critics for being extravagantly feminine. Nielsen added the final somersault to these gender inversions with the help of a vigorous push from Vining’s theory; the 1921 German production cites him in the opening credits, burnishing his legitimacy by preceding his name with the title “Professor.” This milestone in the history of silent film and Shakespeare interpretation was long feared lost, but a tinted print was rediscovered in 2005 and restored by the German Film Institute in its original sepia and blue tones. The reddish brown exteriors exude history and fate: Norwegian forces on horseback; traveling dramatic troupes, and castle interiors that pulse with antic melancholy, Ophelia pulled from the brook, her white dress turned the color of damp straw. The gloomy interiors throb with foreboding. One can almost smell mead and moss in the auditorium air as if wafting synaesthetically from the screen. Never was Hamlet’s inky cloak inkier. Nielsen’s hair and eyes shine equally as blackly. Her slender hands dance whitely against her dark robes. Her long face with its once-world-famous cheekbones is splendid in its pallor in the midst of which her large dark eyes scheme and love.

That love is directed at Horatio—much more than simply a friend of the manic prince. The film adds many scenes to the original, pursuing rampant liberties with the alleged sanction of Vining’s treatise. Hamlet falls for Horatio during their student days at the University of Wittenberg. But as it turns out Horatio secretly loves Ophelia, though surprisingly doesn’t seem to blame Hamlet for his mistreatment of the young woman. There are longing glances in which Nielsen’s expressiveness excels, and nimble avoidance of embraces that might reveal her womanly features. This female Hamlet’s true feelings remain unrequited except for a fleeting posthumous kiss by Horatio and his simultaneous discovery of her right breast after the final deadly duel with Laertes. In the run-up to this fateful encounter Nielsen begins increasingly to emerge from her courtly costume while her acting becomes freer—ever more animated and deranged as if madness really does overtake. Hamlet wails to her mother Gertrude, and the inter-title translation of her plaint reads: “I am not a man, but am not allowed to be a woman.” An end to the long-suffered lie can only be around the next dank castle corner and but a few screen minutes away.

These repressions and revelations were aided and abetted in a performance in Sage Chapel on the Cornell campus by the Filmharmonia duo led by the pioneering silent film musician, organist Dennis James. Over the past forty years, James has been indefatigable his performances and research, and through his music-making brought many important films (among them Lilian Gish’s 1926 masterpiece, La Bohème) back to life. On the occasion of the four-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616 the National Gallery of Art commissioned a soundtrack from James. He then joined forces with international expert in historic keyboards Michael Tsalka, a musician of fertile imagination and dauntingly facile fingers, unseen by the movie audience but no less expressive than Nielsen’s.

James and Tsalka developed their material by drawing almost exclusively on the works of Johann Sebastian Bach’s sons, all of whom were to varying degrees both inspired and oppressed by the legacy—or do I mean ghost?—of their domineering father. Since Nielsen’s Hamlet is a fantasy on the original, and it was fitting that the Filmharmonia score was a sprawling Bachian tapestry of soul-searching keyboard monologues by the older two brothers—Wilhelm Friedemann (a disappointment to history and probably to himself) and second son Carl Philipp Emanuel, the most famous Bach of the eighteenth-century; these harrowing fugues interleaved with swerving flights of fancy were leavened by lighter fare from the youngest son, Johann Christian. This unashamedly superficial music was enlisted for the frolics of Hamlet’s student days and his clever forgery that cost Rosencrantz and Guildenstern their heads.

The most famous fantasy of them all was composed by Carl Philipp Emanuel in 1753 soon after the death of his father, and was promptly kitted-out by a contemporary poet with a translation of Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy. Singing the embedded soprano line added to this most famous musical fantasy as well as another sepulchral, much simpler song by C. P. E. Bach, was Marija Bosnar, whose voice matched the range of Hamlet’s rampant emotions, from touching purity to fiery outrage. C. P. E. Bach’s Hamlet Fantasy, one of the most famous keyboard pieces of the second half of the eighteenth century, lurches from defiant outbursts to the most sentimental melodies, and is the very sonic image of Hamlet’s madness. It reappeared to lurk and rave, ghostlike, as the drama took its unlikely course. The Bach sons lived at a time when Germany had become obsessed with the restive—some claimed unorganized—genius of the Bard, and the Filmharmonia duo score, with James at the brooding chapel organ and Tsalka on harpsichord and early piano of the kind known to the Bachs made for an unexampled trans-historical mash-up that both complicated and complemented Nielsen’s newly animated reimagining of Hamlet as the Princess of Elsinore. Last night’s screening inside the suitably Gothic interior of the nineteenth-century chapel in whose crypt are laid the university’s founders, and in whose rafters flies a bat apparently fond of these ongoing silver screen exhumations, showed again that these are not really silent films at all, but rather works that have inspired, and indeed demand, creations of musical sound that in turn make Nielsen’s onscreen madness even more magical and mysterious.

DAVID YEARSLEY is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His recording of J. S. Bach’s organ trio sonatas is available from Musica Omnia. He can be reached at


“On September 14, 2017, the Department of Music, Cornell Cinema, and The Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies presented SILENT HAMLET with the DUO FILMHARMONIA DUO in Sage Chapel on the campus of Cornell University. This HAMLET, among so many film versions available today, was the restored 1921 German silent film, starring Asta Nielsen in the title role. The DUO FILMHARMONIA consists of Dennis James, organ, and Michael Tsalka, fortepiano. They assembled an extremely vivid and compelling score, culled from the music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, and Johann Christian Bach, all sons of the great master, Johann Sebastian Bach. Mr. James and Dr. Tsalka have created a riveting musical experience that greatly enhances the visual, psychological, and dramatic elements of the film. On the evening in question, they were assisted by mezzo-soprano Marija Bosnar, who ably provided the vocal component of the score with her warm and expressive voice. This was truly a memorable evening of music and film, and one which I will cherish. James and Tsalka are to be heartily commended for their imagination and sensitivity in bringing together seemingly diverse elements that deliver a sumptuous feast for the senses.

Dr. Michael Landrum
Professor of Music and Film Studies
Roberts Wesleyan College
Rochester, New York”

Six recent reviews concerning Naxos Classics CD release, Tibbles/Tsalka (Aug. –Oct.):

….“Amb un fortepiano Walter de 1801, els pianistes James Tibbles i Michael Tsalka, arrodoneixen la proposta artística amb molt bona captació de so: riquesa tímbric, claredat de textures, intensitat en el fraseig i encaix dels accents rítmics, contrastos acusat sense paroxisme, indubtable musicalitat, varietat idiomàtica i un entusiasme i frescor que validen a Dittersforf com un compositor suggerent i creatiu, l'obra del qual mereix molta més difusió que la rebuda fins ara. Sens dubte, és un dels molts bons discs comercialitzats pel segell Naxos aquest 2017. “
.…”Con un fortepiano Walter de 1801, los pianistas James Tibbles y Michael Tsalka redondean la propuesta artística con muy buena toma de sonido: riqueza tímbrica, claridad de texturas, intensidad del fraseo musical y encaje de los acentos rítmicos, contrastes acusados sin paroxismo, indudable musicalidad, variedad idiomática y un entusiasmo y frescura que validan a Dittersdorf como un compositor sugerente y creativo cuya obra merece mucha más difusión que la recibida. Sin duda, uno de los varios buenos discos comercializados por el sello este 2017”).
…."Tsalka and Tibbles’ playing is fetching. Flawlessly coordinated, fresh and clean, bold, dazzling and inspired, their reading of the works strikes a happy balance between their own spontaneity and the inbuilt composure of Classical keyboard style. Splendid passagework and contrapuntal clarity make for engrossing listening, as does Dittersdorf’s concept of “orchestrating” the keyboard. Under Tsalka and Tibbles’ fingers, the Metamorphoses’ many moods and textures emerge with articulacy on Paul Downie’s replica of an 1801 fortepiano, its true, unadulterated sound proving to be an extraordinarily fine vehicle for communicating the composer’s rich and often unconventional world of ideas, colours, textures and moods".
….The performance of James Tibbles and Michael Tsalka is excellent throughout, with the sound of the instrument, a copy of a Walter fortepiano of 1801 being big enough to bring out the character of Dittersdorf’s music. The booklet notes on the music, whilst brief, are very good and these are augmented with a brief synopsis of the sections of Ovid’s original that lie behind the sonatas. All in all, this is a most welcome and valuable recording, one which is a winner and not just as an historical rarity, but also musically; this music deserves to be heard and in Tibbles and Tsalka we have the ideal partnership to bring this music to life”.

….Fortepianists James Tibbles and Michael Tsalka are well-matched in their performances—so seamlessly responsive in their back and forth that it’s sometimes easy to forget there are two players and not only one at the helm of the 1801 Walter model fortepiano on which they perform.
The two other symphonies-turned-sonatas four hands that they play together on this recording tell the tales of Hercules and Jason. Knowing the stories makes all the difference in the listening, and it’s especially delightful to have the composer’s own descriptions of his music.

August 2017: A review of the CD: Dittersdorf, Three Ovid Sonatas. Tibbles/Tsalka.
David Denton, David's Review Corner:

"During his lifetime, the Vienna-born Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf was best known as a highly prolific composer of comic operas most exceeding Mozart in popularity. Outside of the theatre, his major project, and one of the most ambitious of the era, was to compose fifteen symphonies using the words of Ovid’s Metamorphoses as his inspiration. That the project was completed is hardly in doubt, but his publisher decided that after the first six, the whole concept was a financial risk too great to undertake, though six were performed in public in that format. Maybe it was as an effort to rectify his monetary loss, Dittersdorf set about arranging the unpublished works for four hands at the fortepiano, in the hope that he would recoup some of his loss by the sale of sheet music. What happened therein is unclear, but three of them did appear in that format, and there is evidence that he might have arranged all fifteen for the keyboard in duo format. What is puzzling about the present issue is the description on the outer-part of the packaging that offers Three ‘Ovid’ Sonatas for Fortepiano, Four Hands, when the enclosed booklet acknowledges the fact that they are four movement symphonies. Confusion, but the works themselves are hugely enjoyable, and the fortepiano used—a copy of a Walter from 1801—made by Downe in New Zealand, packs the punchy sound the composer obviously wanted. It is played by the New Zealand historic keyboard specialist, James Tibbles, and the critically acclaimed Michael Tsalka. Clean articulation and perfectly balanced playing adds to my unqualified commendation"

June, 2017: A review of Overture and Concerti concert in Sydney, June 17.
Sydney Arts Guide:

May, 2017, Ton Kunst, Germany:
Yehezkel Braun: Sharkiya. Music for plucked instruments.
Alson Sariel (Mandoline), Izhar Elias (Gitarre), Michael Tsalka (Cembalo)
Israel Music Institute IMI-CD-60 (2016)
Paisiello in Vienna: Variations on “Nel cor più non mi sento” von Beethoven, Bortolazzi, Giuliani, Hummel und Wanhal.
Alson Sariel (Mandoline), Izhar Elias (Gitarre), Michael Tsalka (Fortepiano)
Brilliant Classics 95301 (2015)
Ferdinand Ries: Romantic Variations, Fantasies and a Rondo
Michael Tsalka (Fortepiano)
Naxos 8.573628 (2016)

Dr. Kadja Grönke

Wer nach der CD Sharkiya mit Werken des 1922 in Breslau geborenen und 2014 in Tel Aviv verstorbenen Komponisten Yehezkel Braun greift, ohne diesen Komponisten zu kennen, der sollte keine vorgefassten Erwartung hegen. Denn ungeachtet ihrer Entstehungszeit strömt diese Musik mit dem Feuer eines Vivaldi, dem mediterranen, ja spanischen Flair eines Padre Soler und aller Vitalität und Fülle eines barocken Meisters aus den Lautsprechern. Sie ist kraftvoll, direkt, dazu warm und farbig im Klang und – ja, tatsächlich: Sie ist schön.
Für die Schönheit dieser durchlichteten, pulsierenden Musik sind neben einem durchweg tonalen Schreibstil, dem alles Experimentelle oder gar Avantgardistische fremd ist, auch die drei Interpreten verantwortlich: Ihre Instrumente Mandoline, Gitarre und Cembalo mischen sich, fließen zusammen und wieder auseinander, lassen Klanglichter aufleuchten und vorüberziehen. Ihre vitale Spielfreude wirkt nicht aufdringlich-brillant, sondern ergibt sich zwanglos aus dem agilen Miteinander dreier Künstler, die hörbar Freude an ihrem Tun und an der von ihnen gespielten Musik haben. In den Rahmenstücken – dem tokkatenhaften Sharkiya (1957), das Braun ihnen kurz vor seinem Tod gewissermaßen als Vermächtnis übergeben hat, und dem tänzerischen Abschluss Music for plucked instruments (2002) – spielen die Drei so dicht ineinander, dass das Resultat fast wie ein einziges Instrument, ein einziger musikalischer Impuls wirkt. In diesen Rahmen eingebettet sind die Sonate für Mandoline und Gitarre (2004) und das vielleicht facettenreichste Werk der CD, die Partita für Gitarre (1995): Explizit als „Hommage an Girolamo Frescobaldi“ komponiert, basieren Preludio, Toccata, Air, Corrente und Ciaccona deutlich auf barocken Schreibtechniken und Spielweisen und sind ein dankbares Werk für Izhar Elias, dessen bemerkenswerte Gitarrentechnik mit feiner musikalischer Gestaltungskraft einhergeht.
Yehezkel Braun, der nach Umwegen über Militärdienst und Kibbuz-Leben mit Anfang Dreißig sein Musikstudium abschloss und als Professor für Komposition in Tel Aviv lebte, reklamiert für sich weder einen Ort in der Moderne, noch schreibt er bewusst historisierend. Vielmehr klingt die Musik auf eine Weise vertraut-unvertraut, die sich schwer definieren lässt. Auch wenn das Booklet auf die elterliche Sammlung von Opernaufnahmen, die jemenitischen, arabischen und chassidischen Alltagslieder in Brauns Jugend, sein Studium von Violine, Flöte und Klavier und insbesondere auf Haydn, Brahms, Bartok und französische Komponisten der Jahrhundertwende verweist, liegt den vier hier eingespielten Werken die Musik um 1700 weitaus näher. Braun nutzt sie jedoch nicht für neobarock abgespulte Schemata, sondern spielt auf sehr eigene, authentische Weise mit den historischen Formen und Spielfiguren. Auch wenn der CD-Begleittext immer wieder auf Sonatenschemata verweist und die Partita gar eine Folge von Charakterstücken nenn, hört man vor allem eine erfrischend jung anmutende Musik, die in durchaus positivem Sinne aus der Zeit gefallen ist.
Braun selbst umreißt sein Komponieren mit den Worten: „My principle is thinking in sounds, not in concepts, not in emotions [...]. I do not use players and instruments to express an idea.” Entsprechend empfiehlt es sich, das Hörerlebnis nicht kognitiv zu zergliedern, sondern sich an der vitalen Musik und der ausgezeichneten Interpretation zu erfreuen. Die Hoffnung der drei Musiker, mit dieser Musik „a picture of the enchanting Israeli landscape“ zu zeichnen und damit ein anderes Bild des Landes zu vermitteln als in den Abendnachrichten, ist zweifellos gelungen.

Wem das gefällt, dem sei auch die CD Paisiello in Vienna ans Herz gelegt, die die drei Musiker etwa zeitgleich vorgelegt haben. Während Sharkiya übers Rückenmark wirkt, springt die Paisiello gewidmete CD unmittelbar in die Mundwinkel und zwingt sie unwiderstehlich in die Höhe. Die Einspielung wird durch zwei rote Fäden zusammengebunden: Paisiellos bis heute populäre Melodie „Nel cor più non mi sento” und „Musik für Mandoline in wechselnden Besetzungen“. Wieder agieren die drei Musiker als eingespieltes Team. Sie reichern sie die Werke von Beethoven, Hummel, Mauro Giuliani, Johann Baptist Wanhal und Bartolomeo Bortolazzi mit frischen und geschmeidigen eigenen Verzierungen an und präsentieren immer wieder feine Überraschungen in Phrasierung, Agogik und Dynamik. Die einzelnen Kompositionen – darunter Hummels Grande Sonate für Mandoline und Klavier und drei kleinere Werke Beethovens in derselben aparten Besetzung – werden facettenreich ausgelotet. Statt des in der Braun-CD genutzten Nachbaus eines Cembalos aus dem zweiten Drittel des 18. Jh. spielt Pianist Michael Tsalka hier ein Fortepiano von Joseph Böhm von 1820, und Gitarre und Mandoline sind ebenfalls Originale aus dem 19. Jh., sodass die Balance zwischen den Instrumenten optimal ausgewogen ist und der Klang so farbig und so facettenreich wirkt, dass es für die Dauer der CD undenkbar erscheint, Musik wie diese jemals wieder auf modernen Instrumenten zu hören.
Die instruktiven, liebevoll gestalteten (wenn auch leider nur einsprachig englischen) Booklets sind ein weiterer Pluspunkt beider Trio-CDs.

Im Übrigen kann, wer Paisiello in Vienna schätzt, ohne zu zögern auch nach Michael Tsalkas neuer Solo-Einspielung greifen: Klaviermusik von Ferdinand Ries, also Musik zwischen Wiener Klassik und aufkommender Virtuosenliteratur, entstanden in einer Zeit reger Entwicklungen im Klavierbau. Tsalka nutzt hierfür gleich drei unterschiedliche Instrumente: Nachbauten eines Fortepianos von Johann Schantz um 1800, von Nanette Streicher von etwa 1815 und von Conrad Graf (ca. 1824). Der Ton ist in den Höhen hell und gelegentlich etwas dünn, manchmal fast penetrant trocken, in der Mittellage vollmundig wie ein guter Wein, und in den Tiefen zurückhaltend, aber tragfähig. Tsalka, der sich auf historische Tasteninstrumente spezialisiert hat, aber mit Enthusiasmus auch moderne Musik auf zeitgenössischen Flügeln spielt, ist hier ganz in seinem Element. Neben der Freude, selten gehörtes Repertoire in einem Klanggewand erleben zu können, das der Zeit unmittelbar nach 1800 sehr nahe kommt, ist zugleich ein subtil abgestuftes Musizieren zu erleben, das der lauten Gegenwart einen feinen und bedenkenswerten Kontrapunkt entgegensetzt.

From a review of ‘Fantasies, Variations and Rondos’ by Ferdinand Ries, a CD recorded for Naxos Classics. Peter J. Rabinowitz, Fanfare, Feb., 2017:
…”Tsalka has a fine sense of the rhetoric of ornamental gestures and shapes the transitional passages well; he’s effective, too, in his use of the special coloristic qualities of his instruments…”

From a review of GRAND PIANO, THE KEY COLLECTION: THREE CENTURIES OF RARE KEYBOARD GEMS, a three CD Collection (Naxos/Grand Piano): . Spiegel Online, February 2017: …“This treasure island of piano music”.

From a review of ‘Fantasies, Variations and Rondos’ by Ferdinand Ries, a CD recorded for Naxos Classics:
Salustio Alvarado, Ritmo, January 2017
“Michael Tsalka es un especialista en instrumentos de teclado historicos, que ha grabado, entre otros, para Grand Piano, filial del sello Naxos, interesantisimas primicias mundiales de obras desconocidas de Daniel Gottlob Turk (1750–1813) y Jan Krˇtitel Vanˇhal (1739–1813). Ahora se suma a la cruzada que desde hace anos lleva emprendida el propio sello Naxos en pro de Ferdinand Ries (1784–1838), alumno, secretario y amigo de Beethoven, con el presente disco que recoge, interpretadas en tres diferentes pianofortes, copia de instrumentos vieneses fabricados a lo largo del primer cuarto del siglo XIX, las siguientes obras: Variacionesen fa mayor Op. 105/1, Fantasía en mi bemol mayorOp. 49, Variaciones en domayor Op. 105/2, Fantasíaen la bemol mayor Op. 109, Variaciones en la menor Op.40/1 e Introducción y Rondóen mi bemol mayor Op. 184, de las que cuatro son primicias discograficas mundiales absolutas y las otras dos casi como si lo fueran. A destacar las Variaciones en la menorOp. 40/1 sobre una cancion cosaca, que no es otra que la famosisima Ïchav kozakza Dunaj, conocida en Alemania como Schöne Minka, sobre la que ya he hablado en alguna que otra ocasion, y tambien el Rondó “à la Zingaresco”Op. 184, que prefigura las Rapsodias Hungaras de Liszt”

Andrea Bedetti, Dec. 2016 for Music Voice (Italy) about “Sharkiya”, a CD dedicated to works by Yehezkel Braun.

Zeitungsbericht vom 29.11.2016 über Konzert am 26.11.2016 in Bad Pyrmonz, St. Petri Kirche, Dr. Kai Bodien
Eine Sternstunde:
“Zum Abschluß und als weiterer Höhepunkt der Reihe „Oesdorfer Abendmusiken“ gastierten in der St.-Petri Kirche drei exzellente Instrumentalvirtuosen mit einem erlesenen Programm unter dem Motto „Hommage a Paisiello“. Giovanni Paisiello, dessen zweihundertstes Todesjahr sich in 2016 jährte, war im Wien um 1800 ein überaus erfolgreicher Opernkomponist, dessen Arie „Nel cor piu non mi sento“ (in meinem Herzen ich fühle nicht mehr...) sich zu ihrer Zeit zu einem Gassenhauer bzw. Schlager entwickelte. Über diese Arie wurden von einer Reihe damals prominenter Komponisten wie u.a. Vanhal, Hummel, Ludwig van Beethoven originelle Variationswerke geschaffen. Eine Auswahl dieser Kompositionen hatten die drei Musiker im Gepäck und stellten sie modernen Kompositionen gegenüber, die eigens für ihre Besetzung komponiert und ihnen gewidmet waren.
Silbrige, zauberische Klänge entlockten der Mandolinist Alon Sariel, der Gitarrist Izhar Elias und der Pianist Michel Tsalka ihren Instrumenten in wechselnden Kombinationen. Die Musiker bestachen nicht allein durch atemberaubendes Virtuosentum, sondern durch punktgenaues, feines, organisches Kammermusizieren, das zugleich anregend und beruhigend wirkt wie ein Spaziergang durch den Kurpark.
Wieder einmal erwies sich die Aufgeschlossenheit der Hörerschaft in der St.-Petri Kirche auch für moderne Klänge, hier der Komponisten Yehezkel Braun und Tomi Räisänen, die im Umfeld der Paisiello-Variationen von Mauro Giuliani, Beethoven und Hummel nicht als fremdartig oder störend empfunden, sondern mit besonders starkem Beifall bedacht wurden. Die Moderation von Alon Sariel, der übrigens als Barenboim-Schüler auch als Dirigent bedeutendes Renommee genießt, war locker und launig.
Eine Sternstunde am Vorabend des ersten Advents!”

Review of a Trio concert at the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies, Nov. 13, 2016:

Rudi Rudolph, Bad Pyrmonter Nov. 26, 2016
Besinnliches Konzert in St. Petri:
“Bad Pyrmont. Bereits zum zweiten Mal konnte Alon Sariel am Samstagnachmittag das zahlreiche Publikum in der Oesdorfer St. Petr-Kirche begrüßen, hatte er doch schon vor geraumer Zeit einmal ein Konzert gegeben, das die Zuhörer damals gewaltig beeindruckte. Nun war es der St. Petri-Stiftung gelungen, diesen international führenden Ausnahmekünstler auf der Mandoline und Laute wieder zu einem Auftritt zu gewinnen, und der junge Israeli hatte sowohl ein spannendes Programm als auch zwei weitere Spitzenmusiker dabei. Izhar Elias, der erste Gitarrist, der den niederländischen Musikpreis gewann, spielte allerdings nicht auf seiner 200 Jahre alten Gitarre des Instrumentenbauers Carlo Guadagnini, diesmal war es ein Instrument von Dominique Delarue aus dem Jahr 2009. Als Dritter im Bunde der Tastenvirtuose Michael Tsalka, der gleichermaßen Hammerflügel, Cembalo und Orgelpositiv beherrscht und nunmehr am Klavier zu hören war. Im Zusammensiel dieser drei entfaltete sich eine einerseits technisch hochklassige als auch höchst sensible und warme Vortragsweise, die in dem großen Kirchenraum ihren ganz eigenen Reiz entfaltete. Zunächst überzeugte das Trio mit der „Toccata aus dem Trio für Mandoline, Gitarre und Klavier” des erst 2014 verstorbenen israelischen Komponisten Yehzkel Braun. Dabei schafften es die Musiker, allen drei Instrumenten eine harmonisch verwandte Klangfarbe zu verleihen, die sich in der melodischen Führung abwechselten und ergänzten. Ihr Programm hatten sie „Hommage à Paisiello” betitelt und es damit einer der berühmtesten Opernarien des Komponisten Giovanni Paisiello im Wien des 19. Jahrhunderts gewidmet, der „Nel cor piu non mi sento”. Variationen darüber, geschrieben von Mauro Giuliani Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts, und die „Polonaise op. 113” interpretierten die drei Solisten mit unglaublicher Perfektion. Besonders Izhar Elias demonstrierte, was Gitarrenspiel bedeuten kann. Absolut bundreines Greifen, exzellente Läufe bis hin zum 15. Bund und noch weiter sowie eine besondere Leichtigkeit in der rechten Hand beeindruckten ungeheuer. Auch in der „Fantasia aus der Sonate für Mandoline und Gitarre” von Yehzkel Braun brillierten die beiden Saiteninstrumentalisten. Ludwig van Beethoven hatte ebenfalls Variationen über die Paisiello-Arie geschrieben, derer sich Michael Tsalka mit inniger Verbundenheit am Piano annahm. Sehr leicht und luftig angelegt hätte er so den ganzen Abend weiterspielen können. Doch jeder Interpret hatte seinen speziellen Part, wie etwa Alon Sariel in der fast ertistischen „Grande Sonata für Mandoline und Klavier op. 37” von Johann Nepomuk Hummel, die er mit virtuoser Leichtigkeit zelebrierte. Den Abschluss des Konzertes bildete ein Gegenwartswerk des finnischen Komponisten Tomi Räisänen. Das modern und doch sehr passend integrierte „Inside a Mechanical Clock” kam ausgesprochen klangschön und variationsreich daher, immer im Hintergrund begleitend das Ticken der Uhr. Nicht geplant und doch überraschend, dass mit dem letzten Ton auch die Kirchenuhr zu schlagen begann”

Pamela Hickman. From Pamela Hickman’s Concert Critique Blog, concerning Ries CD, Fantasies and Variations, October 2016
…“Not only did Tsalka’s playing of [Variations in F major] bring out its richly appealing Classical pianistic style, textures and fine craftsmanship, it also directed whimsical reference to the self-importance of the lowly soldier on sentry duty: the original subject is reintroduced here and there throughout the variations. …Michael Tsalka’s playing of [Variations in C major] was fresh and spontaneous. …[his] articulate and engrossing playing of [Variations in A minor] took on board the piece’s many swift changes of temperament, its drama, its moments of weightlessness, of wistfulness, its elegance and velvety songfulness. I would imagine this might have been one of the works considered too difficult by London amateur keyboard players. Read complete review

Robert Benson,, September 2016
“…superbly played on the fortepiano by Michael Tsalka…”

Andrea Bedetti
Audiophile Sound, September 2016
“giudizio artistico: OTTIMO
Siamo abituati a considerare Ferdinand Ries l’amico devote, il segretario, l’allievo prediletto di Ludwig van Beethoven, ma non consideriamo mai il fatto che questo musicista tedesco fu soprattutto un validissimo compositore e un fior di pianista. L’unica sua copla, in fondo, fu quella di crescere all’ombra di un albero gigantesco quale fu il genio di Bonn, il quale inevitablimente oscuro la sua pur rimarchevole opera, a cominciare dal repertorio pianistico (Ries compose nove concerti per pianoforte e quattordici sonate) tra cui I pezzi qui registrati, in buona parte in prima assoluta. Indubbio, e non poteva essere altrimenti, l’influsso beethoveniano, ma questo non significa che Ries fosse un ‘succhiaruote’ musicale.
Si ascoltino pagine come le Variazioni in fa maggiore sulla canzone francese La Sentinelle oppure la Fantasia in la bemolle maggiore sul Poema schilleriano Resignation per rendersi conto di come il fraseggio, l’equilibrio della scrittura e la fine inventive facciano parte del baggalio personale del compositore tedesco.
Ottima l’esecuzione da parte di Michael Tsalka che, avvalendosi di tre fortepiano, copie perfette dell’epoca, riesce a restituirse pienamente la brillantezza e il fascino del pianismo di Ries.
Giudizio tecnico: OTTIMO
John Scherf ha Saputo catturare al meglio il suono non certo facile di uno strumento come il fortepiano, restituendo piu che adeguatamente la tavolozza degli aromonici grazie a una dinamica precisa, pulita e per nulla saturante. Nulla da eccepire anche sul soundstage, cosi come sugli altri parametric"

From a review of ‘Fantasies, Variations and Rondos’ by Ferdinand Ries, a CD recorded for Naxos Classics:
Forum Classico, Spain, Sep. 2016:…“Alumno de Beethoven la fantasiosa música de Ferdinand Ries brilla en sus románticas Fantasías, Variaciones y Rondós, aquí interpretados al fortepiano por el especialista Michael Tsalka”.

A review of "Paisiello in Vienna" CD for Brilliant Classics, by Wissâm Feuillet, Sep. 2016: htttp://

Andrea Bedetti, Audiophile Sound, Sep. 2016: “giudizio artistico: OTTIMO
Siamo abituati a considerare Ferdinand Ries l’amico devote, il segretario, l’allievo prediletto di Ludwig van Beethoven, ma non consideriamo mai il fatto che questo musicista tedesco fu soprattutto un validissimo compositore e un fior di pianista. L’unica sua copla, in fondo, fu quella di crescere all’ombra di un albero gigantesco quale fu il genio di Bonn, il quale inevitablimente oscuro la sua pur rimarchevole opera, a cominciare dal repertorio pianistico (Ries compose nove concerti per pianoforte e quattordici sonate) tra cui I pezzi qui registrati, in buona parte in prima assoluta. Indubbio, e non poteva essere altrimenti, l’influsso beethoveniano, ma questo non significa che Ries fosse un ‘succhiaruote’ musicale.
Si ascoltino pagine come le Variazioni in fa maggiore sulla canzone francese La Sentinelle oppure la Fantasia in la bemolle maggiore sul Poema schilleriano Resignation per rendersi conto di come il fraseggio, l’equilibrio della scrittura e la fine inventive facciano parte del baggalio personale del compositore tedesco. Ottima l’esecuzione da parte di Michael Tsalka che, avvalendosi di tre fortepiano, copie perfette dell’epoca, riesce a restituirse pienamente la brillantezza e il fascino del pianismo di Ries.
Giudizio tecnico: OTTIMO
John Scherf ha Saputo catturare al meglio il suono non certo facile di uno strumento come il fortepiano, restituendo piu che adeguatamente la tavolozza degli aromonici grazie a una dinamica precisa, pulita e per nulla saturante. Nulla da eccepire anche sul soundstage, cosi come sugli altri parametric".

From a review of ‘Fantasies, Variations and Rondos’ by Ferdinand Ries, a CD recorded for Naxos Classics: Robert Benson,, Sep. 2016 “…superbly played on the fortepiano by Michael Tsalka”...

From a review of ‘Fantasies, Variations and Rondos’ by Ferdinand Ries, a CD recorded for Naxos Classics: Forum Classico, Spain, Sep. 2016:…“Alumno de Beethoven la fantasiosa música de Ferdinand Ries brilla en sus románticas Fantasías, Variaciones y Rondós, aquí interpretados al fortepiano por el especialista Michael Tsalka”.

From a review of ‘Fantasies, Variations and Rondos’ by Ferdinand Ries, a CD recorded for Naxos Classics: David Denton, David's Review Corner, August 2016:…”The performer, Michael Tsalka, a person steeped in the performance and interpretation of early keyboard music, and I much enjoy his crisp articulation helped by the rather dry acoustic of the American recording venue”.

A review of "Paisiello in Vienna" CD for Brilliant Classics, by Peter Päffgen, May, 2016, for See the whole review here.

Pamela Hickman, concerning "Paisiello in Vienna" CD, recorded in 2015 by Izhar Elias, Alon Sariel and Michael Tsalka. April, 2016, Jerusalem.

Magazine Classic, March, 2016.

Review in Pizzicato concerning the Brilliant Classics CD (Sariel/Elias/Tsalka), Feb. 2016. "
Die Wichtigkeit von Mandoline und Gitarre im Wiener Musikleben des 19. Jahrhunderts und der an lokalen Komponisten nicht unbemerkt vorbeigegangene Aufenthalt von Giovanni Paisiello hat den Gitarristen Izhar Elias, den Mandolinisten Alon Sariel und den Fortepianisten Michael Tsalka zu einem originellen CD-Programm inspiriert. Kein einziges Stück von Paisiello gibt es auf der Silberscheibe, aber eine Auswahl an Stücken, die des Italieners bestbekanntes Duett ‘Nel cor più non mi sento’ als Inspirationsquelle nehmen. Die ‘Inspirierten’ sind Bartolomeo Bortolazzi Joh. Nepomuk Hummel, Mauro Giuliani, Joh. Baptist Wanhal und…. Ludwig van Beethoven. Ein ebenso delikat-charmantes wie gelungenes Programm, das, von einem beherzten Musizieren belebt, sehr anregend wirkt (Brilliant Classics 95301)"

4 Stars in NRC, Netherlands, "Paisiello in Vienna" CD. Feb. 2016.

Review in Klassieke Zaken, Netherlands, "Paisiello in Vienna" CD. Feb. 2016.

4 Stars for De Telegraaf newspaper, Netherlands, Jan. 2016

Cryptogram CD of the week for the
Dutch Radio, on KRO/NCRV De Ochtend van 4 (Jan. 2016)

Milenio, Mexico City, January 2016

Cronica, Mexico City, January 2016

Enlace Judio, Mexico City, 2016

Michael Tsalka is een druk bezet man. Hij reist over de hele wereld om concerten. lezingen en masterclasses te geven. Ook in Nederland is hij regelmatig te horen en sinds 2014 is hij artistiek directeur van het Geelvinck Fortepiano Festival, dat van 8 t/m 25 oktober in Amsterdam zal worden gehouden. Dit interview werd in de loop der tijd op verschillende plaatsen gehouden: in het Tataarse Kazan waar we allebei lesgaven, in het Finse Kuopio waar we allebei speelden en in Amsterdam.

Wanhal Capriccios CD: Andrea Bedetti, CD Classico. September 2015.
..."Tra quei musicisti che fecero da corollario al meraviglioso trio della prima scuola di Vienna, cuore del Classicismo, ossia i sommi Haydn, Mozart e Beethoven, ci fu anche un musicista boemo, Johann Baptist Vaňhal (germanizzato in Wanhal), uno dei maggiori violinisti dell’epoca. Nato nel 1739 e morto nella capitale austriaca nel 1813, ossia quando ormai scomparsi Haydn e Mozart, era in piena attività il colosso di Bonn, Vaňhal ebbe dunque modo di attraversare quel luminoso periodo creando un catalogo davvero nutrito di opere, tra cui cento quartetti per archi, non meno di settantatré sinfonie, quasi cento composizioni di musica sacra e un gran numero di opere strumentali (dedicate soprattutto al suo beneamato strumento) e vocali. Fu proprio grazie a questo nutrito catalogo che, ancor prima di Beethoven e sicuramente più di Mozart e Haydn, questo musicista boemo fu in grado di vivere più che dignitosamente grazie ai proventi forniti dalla stampa delle sue opere (non per nulla, ai tempi era famosissimo e tenuto in altissima considerazione anche dai grandissimi). Ne è una riprova che spesso e volentieri, grazie anche al suo virtuosismo, Vaňhal suonò in formazioni quartettistiche nelle quali erano presenti sia Haydn, sia Mozart! Ecco perché il suo nome, ancora oggi, anche se non molto conosciuto al di fuori di una certa cerchia più o meno specialistica, viene accostato a quello di Haydn per ciò che riguarda lo sviluppo della musica strumentale del Classicismo viennese. Ma, pur essendo la sua musica cameristica votata maggiormente al violino, Vaňhal riuscì anche nel repertorio tastieristico a dare vita a una mole impressionante di pagine (più di quattrocento composizioni!), anche se la maggior parte di esse sono rappresentate da esercizi di una sola pagina. Ma non mancano brani di ben altra difficoltà e profondità, come dimostrano le fantasie, le sonate e i capricci indirizzati non tanto ai buoni dilettanti della classe aristocratica, quanto a interpreti professionisti, come nel caso di Carl Czerny e Ignaz Pleyel. Per avere un’idea di queste opere, il pianista e clavicembalista israeliano Michael Tsalka, già protagonista per la stessa etichetta di un disco dedicato alle sonate di un altro compositore misconosciuto dell’epoca, Daniel Gottlob Türk, ha registrato i Capricci Op. 31 e Op. 36, che mettono in rilievo tutta la loro complessità tecnica ed esecutiva. Certo, non possono ambire alle vette mozartiane e haydniane, ma certamente aiutano a capire meglio gli sviluppi stilistici (soprattutto nella costruzione dei tempi lenti) di un’epoca che resta a dir poco irripetibile nel corso della storia della musica occidentale. Il merito di Tsalka è di non rendere stucchevoli questi pezzi, evidenziandone i diversi pregi e i pochi difetti (tra questi ultimi una certa rigidità schematica dell’impianto armonico)"

Wanhal Capriccios CD: Alan Becker, American Record Guide. July 2015.
..."Accolades are due pianist Michael Tsalka, who writes his own excellent notes and plays with feeling, expressivity, and pixieish good humor. It all makes one wonder why such fine music has had to wait this long for any attention"

Wanhal Capriccios CD: Myron Silberstein, Fanfare. July 2015.
..."Michael Tsalka clearly understands Vaňhal’s music. He effectively communicates the humor of the faster movements and plays the more lyrical passages with a singing tone and subtle flexibility of tempo and phrasing"

Viktor Ullmann, 7 Piano Sonatas CD: Steve Arloff, MusicWeb International. July 2015.
..."These sympathetic readings from Michael Tsalka will help in continuing the recent interest in the works of this member of a group of tragic composers whose music promised so much only to be cut off so brutally. At least 27 works were composed by Viktor Ullmann whilst he was in Terezin. They fully demonstrate his determination that while he could he should ensure that life triumphed over the appalling situation the Nazis had engineered"

Pamela Hickman’s Concert Critique Blog, April 2015, relating to my Viktor Ullmann Piano Sonatas recording: ..."Tsalka’s articulate and sensitive reading gives each sonata palpable musical life, the works coming across as “contemporary” and as relevant to current musical thought today as when they were written. This is a great and lasting strength of Viktor Ullmann’s writing. Michael Tsalka finds a fine balance between his understanding of the background and circumstances of each sonata and his objective playing of some of the finest piano music composed in the first half of the 20th century."
 Read complete review:
Review at the Phileleftheros newspaper, Cyprus, relating to a concert by the Mediterranean Trio at the Grüner Salon, Volksbühne, Berlin, April 29"...Yiannis Miralis, Miltiades Papastamou, and Michael Tsalka presented a music program with a wide range of works for sax, violin, and piano...this unique chamber music group developed a fascinating combination of traditional and contemporary, and offered an impressive array of colors. The trio incorporated their different musical experiences from the world of classical, as well as jazz, pop, and traditional music...” Link: 
Review of Wanhal Capriccios CD. Marc Vignal, Classica (France), March, 2015.
From the review: "…This is the first time a CD has been dedicated to [Vanhal’s music for piano solo]…In these sonatas, one can see…the most ambitious, the most extensive movements, sometimes bordering on an improvisational style".
Review of a Piano Recital, entitled: "The Roots of Romanticism". Written by Pamela Hickman, Jan. 2015.
From a review of the "Goldberg" Variations Recording for the Viennese label Paladino. Pamela Hickman, Jan. 2015:
...."Listening to this recording, one is embarking on a unique listening experience, one only to be compared with that of hearing the clavichord played at very close range. It presents an opportunity to tune into a timbre whose directness needs no cosmetic help in presenting Bach’s wealth of ideas and use of several high Baroque forms. In the opening galant-style Aria, Tsalka not only plays with spontaneity, he offers the singing quality of the (vocal) aria as a message to the listener – that we are about to hear this instrument really “sing”. We are then lured into the sound world of each variation, be it the embellished energy of Variation IV, the vivid harmonic coloring tugging at one’s heart strings in the meditative Variation XIII, the uncompromising, confrontational power of tension in Variation XIV, Tsalka’s acknowledging of Bach’s quirky humor in Variation XIV or the probing, soul-searching process of (the minor) Variation XXV, its staggered voices and expressive dissonances played out by the artist with his own sense of wonder and discovery. I found myself not wanting to part from this movement. From here, Tsalka launches into the sweeping intensity of the final variations, a mammoth web of Bach’s most sophisticated, complex and dense counterpoint. Rather than place a musical joke after these compelling variations, Dr. Tsalka chooses a direct, fresh and noble reading of the Quodlibet (Variation XXX). And, prior to the return of the Aria, how relevant it is that the recording technicians did not delete the sound of the artist inhaling in preparation of the final gesture: here was the Aria that had inspired the work, played by the artist with understatement and humility.

This is a recording to interest, surprise and delight listeners. Michael Tsalka’s performance of the Goldberg Variations on two clavichords is articulate and brilliant, allowing for projection of Bach’s counterpoint and subtly shaped inner voices and bass lines, neither being lost in the complex textures. In playing that bristles with creativity and emotion, he makes fine use of both instruments’ palette of colors..."
A review of Wanhal CD (Capriccios), published by Records International. Jan. 2015:
Review of the Viktor Ullmann Sonatas, Andrea Bedetti, CD Classico (Italy). January 2015
Interview for CD Classico (Italy). January 2015
Mario Guada, Codalario, Spain: ..."Michael Tsalka y Grand Piano aúnan fuerzas para rescatar del olvido la obra para teclado del ignoto compositor alemán..."

Brian Reinhart, MusicWeb International, May 2014 Review of CD recording at the Metropolitan Museum, NY: "...for lovers of late classical music and instruments, this album is fascinating. Tsalka’s performances, with subtle and tasteful ornamentation, are a special treat...
All in all, this is an excellent release, one that will fascinate lovers of this genre and time period, especially those who enjoy piano history...."

Ryan Vigil, American Record Guide, May 2014 Review of CD recording at the Metropolitan Museum, NY: ..."Tsalka’s playing, on four different period keyboard instruments from the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is consistently engaging. On the whole this is strong, tasteful playing. In particular, his handling of ornaments, especially on repeats, is highly effective..."

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"....


CD REVIEW. Goldberg Variations. Michael Tsalka (clavichord). Written by Paula Woods, for the British Clavichord Society Publication. Feb., 2014.
"In the last few years it seems that the Goldberg Variations have lost the air of intimidation that had previously clung to them - the sense of something to be admired rather than enjoyed. A few decades ago they were not such a popular item of the concert repertoire as they have now become, with frequent public performances on every kind of keyboard instrument one can think of and - as if to underline a new-found accessibility - a variety of non-keyboard instruments too. Who’s afraid of the Goldbergs? It is encouraging that players are increasingly reappraising them, and offering them to receptive audiences. One of the most refreshing interpretations in recent years has been that of Colin Booth, whose research has resulted in a stimulating recording on the harpsichord, while a fascinating CD from Café Zimmerman reveals the folk-song roots of the Goldbergs. Whether or not we are to believe Forkel’s story that the Variations were written as a kind of therapy for an insomniac aristocrat, we have perhaps all relaxed a bit, and come to appreciate the work as one of the great delights of the keyboard repertoire. They may be an exemplar of Bach’s endless inventiveness, but the Goldbergs do not simply demand awe and reverence. In fact they respond well in an atmosphere of lively intelligence, wit and good humour, rewarding the player who is prepared to think them through for himself. And these qualities are probably even more desirable in the clavichordist, who must shape the voice of the most sensitive and subtle instrument to give life and distinction to Bach’s remarkable Aria, and the thirty variations of quite astonishing diversity that follow it. Anyone who has heard the playing of Michael Tsalka - reflective, nuanced and informed by a strong interest in the historic instruments - will not be surprised to find that he has now recorded the Goldbergs on the clavichord. His previous recordings have included impressive performances on clavichords by Lindholm and Nydahl, as well as the sonatas of Türk. This track record suggests that Michael’s Goldbergs will not disappoint. First impressions can be as influential when listening to the introductory Aria as they are in choosing a new home. It is easy - and not always a good idea - to judge a performance by the way in which the player handles the evocative opening, and it is reassuring to find that this recording resists any temptation to sentimentalize what is after all one of the most celebrated melodies of the eighteenth century, and one with which many listeners will have their own associations. The musical landscape through which we travel thereafter is varied and clearly articulated. The journey is not rushed, with the contrapuntal lines of Variation 3 clearly conveyed and a lively, springy tempo employed in Variation 7. Michael employs a wide range of Affekt and rhythmic inventiveness, maintaining firm control of dynamics and pace, and a considerable degree of light and shade. In his notes to accompany the CD, he describes his approach as ‘a bow to the spirit of improvisation, freedom and unbound imagination’ that he perceives in the work of J. S. Bach and his contemporaries. This may give a misleading impression of wilfulness, but while Michael is not of course intimidated by the music, and wishes to imbue it with a sense of spontaneity and freshness, his interpretation of each variation has been carefully considered, with the result that his playing combines a satisfying observation of detail with a lively sense of inventiveness. Variation 22, for example, is beautifully balanced in both tempo and expressiveness, without any emotional excess. Similarly, in the long Variation 26 - certainly one of the high points of the recording - the potentially ‘tragic’ Affekt is realized tastefully, with well-shaded dynamics and a pace that notes the delicate mood without becoming over-subjective. Michael moves the music on compellingly, without being tempted into Romanticism. A listener coming to the Goldbergs for the first time would unfortunately learn little about the structure of the piece from the liner notes. This may not be a bad thing: the experience of the music should arguably come first, while a more analytical approach follows. Even without any previous familiarity, it is obvious that these variations demonstrate the composer’s facility in making use of every form and mood. The same skill is called for in the player, and the clavichord gives Michael Tsalka the opportunity to do this. Whether it is the virtuosic canon alla quinta of Variation 15, or the humorous folk-song allusion in Variation 30, he sounds equally at home. The clavichord, which might have been overwhelmed by the demands of Variation 17 - a grand toccata for which Bach recommended two keyboards - responds to the challenge of impersonating a harpsichord with impressive dynamic strength. Michael takes this variation without sounding hurried, and makes the most of the instrument’s robust tone, although a slower tempo might have exposed a lack of sustaining power. The choice of clavichords for this recording is interesting, and worth commenting on. Two instruments are used, both by the same maker, Sebastian Niebler, and Michael tells us that he placed them side by side, and moved from one to the other as he felt the variations demanded. One is based on the 1796 J. C. G. Schiedmayer - described as having ‘a lyrical timbre’ - and the other is ‘in the style of late-eighteenth-century Swedish and German clavichords’. It would have been helpful to be told more - for example, whether the stringing of the Schiedmayer copy reflects the original, heavy stringing schedule. No indication is given about which variations each instrument is used for - a mystery that can potentially lead to one listening to the instrument, and trying to distinguish between them, rather than hearing the music! For review purposes, the recording was played on several different pieces of audio kit, ranging from an iPod to a good quality hi-fi setup, and what one hears will obviously vary to some extent according to the playback equipment. The overall impression was of two instruments capable of great tonal clarity in contrapuntal music, and with a pleasing, lute-like sound in the treble, which nevertheless lacked a degree of tonal colour and texture. Variation 24 exposes a rather percussive bass, giving a disappointingly toneless quality in the keyboard’s lower compass. The sustain is limited, and in certain variations there is more dryness and less warmth in the sound than seems desirable. These latestyle instruments can work outstandingly well in the music of, for example, Türk and Haydn, but it is tempting to suggest a Hubert for some of the Goldbergs. Listeners may like to compare Michael Tsalka’s recording with that of Benjamin-Joseph Steens (EPRC 007), made in 2010, for which a clavichord by Joris Potvlieghe was used. The brighter colours and richly textured sound of the Potvlieghe instrument - at times producing an almost harpsichord-like timbre - offers an intriguing tonal contrast. The two recordings - both available through iTunes - are in many ways comple- mentary, and each can be recommended as worthy additions to the clavichord discography. In the case of Michael Tsalka’s version, the player’s empathy with the music and detailed consideration of its demands have given us something of a landmark CD. Just as a book review should not give away the final twist of the plot, I shall leave it to the listener to discover just how Michael responds to the final da capo. Yet if one still has reservations as to whether the Goldbergs have a place in the clavichord repertoire, then this recording seems certain to sweep away any such doubts".


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.


Review of "Kenner" Sonatas recording., April 2014 "The name of German composer Daniel Türk is still known to many piano teachers today, for the exercises he published in the late 1700s; yet, popular and feted in his own time, if his music is familiar at all to us now it is largely through the advocacy of Michael Tsalka. Of Türk’s published oeuvre of solo keyboard music, this set of six sonatas is the only one intended for performance by professional players, and is recorded for the first time. Tsalka has chosen to present them in an authentic context, using four antique keyboards from the collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, representative of what Türk himself would have played. Knowing, as we do, what turbulent emotional extremes Beethoven and, subsequently, the great Romantics were to invest in their piano sonatas, Türk can be viewed as a pioneer – emphasising as he did the expressive and emotional potential of this genre. It certainly comes as a surprise to me, then, that his favourite instrument was the clavichord; a diminutive device operating on harpsichord-like principles, with little sustain or dynamic capability, and which players inform me is considerably hard work. The single sonata performed on it here sees the instrument emitting strange and worrying noises that suggest it may be nearing the end of its 250-year existence – though I’m sure it’s greatly accentuated by the close mic’ing! Therein, of course, lies the charm; along with the two Austrian pianos from the 1790s, both of which sound glorious for their vintage yet still issue the occasional reminder that they’re no modern Steinway, we hear the “warts ‘n all” sound that the composer heard. A recording so effortlessly natural that I never consciously noticed it is what every engineer should aim for, albeit that too many audiophiles are more impressed by overstatement than realism. The sonatas themselves are, as their title probably suggests, more finely crafted and cerebral than flamboyant. However, those with a special interest in the development of piano music through this period will, I think, recognise the contribution that Türk made to preparing the way for Beethoven’s arrival. AF"


Türk Keyboard Sonatas, Collections I and II, Grand Piano GP627-28
Report of a Trio concert at the Gasteig in Munich, a performance which included five world premieres:


Türk Keyboard Sonatas, Collections I and II, Grand Piano GP627-28
Report of World premiere performance of Leonardo Coral's Sonata No. 9 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mexican press: 


Piano Bulletin, EPTA (European Piano Teachers Association), Netherlands. By Christo Leeli. March, 2014
Türk – Six keyboard Sonatas for Conoisseurs (1789)
Michael Tsalka – fortepiano, clavichord
Grand Piano GP657
"Michael Tsalka houdt zich de laatste jaren intensief met de klavierwerken van Daniel Gottlob Türk bezig, als uitgever, onderzoeker en vertolker. In dit nummer treft de lezer een uitvoerig artikel over Türks sonates van zijn hand. In Piano Bulletin 2013-2i werden al twee van
zijn CD’s besproken met respectievelijk Türks Klaviersonaten en Leichte Klaviersonaten, door Tsalka op diverse historische toetsinstrumenten
uitgevoerd. Onlangs completeerde Tsalka zijn Türk-serie met de opname van de 6 Klaviersonaten Grösstentheils für Kenner uit 1789, een wereldpremière. Ook hierop bespeelt hij historische instrumenten, dit keer uit het Metropolitan Museum of Art te New York. Het oudste is een clavichord van Christian Kinzing uit 1763 dat uniek is omdat het een zogenaamd pantalonregister bezit; als dit is ingeschakeld wordt de demping uitgeschakeld, net als bij het indrukken van het rechterpedaal op de piano. Het is te horen in het tweede deel van de Sonate nr. 2, een voor het clavichord ongewone klank, helaas wel ontsierd door ontstemmingen en bijgeluiden.
De overige 5 Sonates speelt Tsalka op fortepiano’s met het Weense mechaniek, gebouwd door Conrad Graf (Wenen circa 1838, dus eigenlijk een wel erg modern instrument voor achttiende-eeuwse klaviermuziek!), Ferdinand Hofmann (Wenen ca. 1790) en een vleugel toegeschreven aan Johann Schmidt uit Salzburg (laatste decennium achttiende eeuw).
De afwisseling van de instrumenten maakt deze CD extra boeiend. Van de twee fortepiono's bevredigt de klank van de schitterende Hofmann-vleugel het meest. Het is niet toevallig dat dit instrument slechts vier jaar jonger dan de gespeelde sonates is. Overigens is het gerechtvaardigd de sonates op clavichord of fortepiano te spelen, want voor Türk was het onderscheid tussen beide instrumenten niet wezenlijk. Het voornaamste is dat in zijn muziek de dynamiek goed gerealiseerd moet kunnen worden. Türk schrijft in een typisch laat-achttiende-eeuwse stijl, sterk vanuit de retoriek, net als Haydn meer sprekend dan zingend. 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 opnemen."


”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.


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".


Quatre claviers historiques de la collection d'instruments du Metropolitan Museum de New-York servent Daniel Gottlob Türk (1750-1813), surtout célèbre pour ses traités musicaux. Beaucoup de caractère dans ce pianoforte de Conrad Graf (Vienne, ca 1838) ou ce clavicorde de 1763 au tembre évoquant un mixte de clavecin, de harpe et de guitare. L'interprétation de Michael Tsalka n'en manque pas non plus. Il saisit au vol les sautes d'humeur de la première sonate, qui rugit, vitupère, menace et égratigne (Grand Piano GP657, ). Diapason, France, January 2014


”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…. Sonata 2 in B flat starts with an Allegro grazioso, which features a delightful dialog between contrasting colors. The buff stop on the middle movement (Largo) is sublime.
The same instrument is used for Sonatas 4 and 6 on the second disc. Sonata 4 in B flat treats us to the lovely lute stop. The final movement (Allegro assai e scherzando) exploits all the instrument's toys, and I confess to out-loud laughing. Tsalka ends it superbly, a final hesitation calling to mind a Til Eulenspiegel prank. 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. The beautiful twenty six-page booklet contains pictures and descriptions of the instruments by their curator, John Koster, as well as notes by the performer. 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, November, 2013

...."This particular recording is the culmination of a project by keyboardist Michael Tsalka, whose goal is to present performances that are not only well informed but also profoundly musical. I must say that in this interpretation, Tsalka has been singularly successful. The first thing I noticed was that this was a performance by somebody who loved and understood Bach’s music very deeply indeed. Tsalka uses every resource at his disposal to put this across...".
Jake Barlow, Too Much Sax and Violins Word Press, November, 2014

“This is a highly ornamented performance, and the ornamentation is often superfluous, sometimes spectacular, sometimes beautiful, and often surprising….Variation 25, the singleton in G minor that stands in a field of G major like Van Gogh's white iris, deserves special mention. Tsalka has a Romantic's understanding of these complex harmonies, and he is at his best here. This is solid, sensual, poignant playing, with both repeats, satisfyingly”.
Christa Rakich, Clavichord International, November, 2013


...."These first recordings constitute the third volume in Israeli-Dutch keyboardist extraordinaire Michael Tsalka's traversal of Daniel Gottlob Türk's 48 published keyboard sonatas using his own new critical edition. Eighteen remain for future volumes, following two double-disc sets released by Grand Piano within the last year or so.
Tsalka once more performs on a selection of valuable historical instruments, something of a trademark of his. For the earlier volumes he went to America's National Music Museum in South Dakota. Here he is in New York, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he makes good use of a 1763 clavichord, two 1790s grand pianos and a fortepiano from c.1838....The marvellous authenticity of 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, Byzantion, Dec. 2013


“On Sunday, 1 September, Michael Tsalka gave an afternoon recital on various historical keyboard instruments. It took place in the i7th-century "Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis", a lustrous canal mansion with a classical garden in the historical centre of Amsterdam. Michael Tsalka is of Polish-Dutch origin and was born in Tel Aviv. He is a many-sided keyboard player and completed his musical studies on keyboard instruments with two master degrees and a doctor's title at Temple University in Philadelphia (USA). Besides his concert trips all over the world, he also teaches the playing of historical keyboard instruments at Lilla Akademien in Stockholm. Since 2012 he is co-director of the annual Nordic Historical Keyboard Festival in Kuopio, Finland.
The title of the program was "The long shadow of the Baroque" and the recital started with three sonatas by Antonio Soler (No. 24 & 25 in D minor. No. 84 in D major). They were played on an unfretted and five-octave clavichord by Gerard van de Meerakker after Hubert, an excellent choice for these pieces. The subsequent Allegro, Andantino and Allegro movements of the three were played in a lively way and with a lot of left hand action.
Next came a selection of three improvisatorial preludes, also played on clavichord: in F-flat major by Jean Denis (France, t6oo-i67z), in C major by Henry Purcell (UK, 1659-1695) and in G minor by Johann Joseph Fux (Germany, 166o-i741). It was interesting to note the style differences between the three compositions, the first one with changing harmonies in a complicated musical structure and the other two full of sound with a lot of broken chords.
"The long shadow of the Baroque was reflected in the choice of the other two keyboard instruments. During the first part of the 19th century, a revived interest for baroque music might have involved the use of then available instruments, such as the Broadwood square piano (1821) and the Boehm fortepiano (1820) in the present recital. The effect of the choice of instrument on the playing of baroque music was illustrated by the performance of four pieces from the Art of the Fugue by J.S. Bach. Its Contrapunctus I and III were played on clavichord and square piano, respectively: after the intermission, Contrapuncrus VII and XI were subsequently played on square piano and fortepiano with a more romantic interpretation. The audience was delighted.
The recital was continued in 21th century shadows of the baroque with contemporary compositions on forrepiano. Michael played a Pialka by Mari-Anne Hof (b.i96o) and a Prelude & Fugue by Liu Qing (b.1974): both works were dedicated to him in 2013. He concluded his recital with the impressive Capriccio in G major, Opus 36 No. 1 by Johann Baptist Wanhal (1739-1813)”
Report by Tom Brockmeier, for Clavichord International (Holland) and the NGC Newsletter. Nov. 2013


...."Pel que fa la interpretació, a més d'un ampli coneixement de les obres, l'intèrpret demostra un domini raonable de tots els teclats fet que permet articular amb claredat les línies i dotar les melodies d'un bon fraseig, ritme i tempo"....


"The playing is wonderful throughout, the lines and phrasing crafted with a very high sense of musicianship. Each variation is invigorating in its approach and feels like a new piece. The playing and choice of instrument also provide us with a constant reminder of the underpinning bass line, creating a sense of unity over the disc as a whole. The performance is also a very intimate one, and its delicacy only serves to enhances this aspect"
MusicWeb International, Jake Barlow, November 2013. Review of the "Goldberg" Variations, for the Paladino label. Read the whole review:


“Opening on a 1838 fortepiano I was highly impressed with the First sonata which had weight and melodic inventiveness. It gets much better in the Third and Fourth sonatas on the 1790 Ferdinand Hofmann Grand Piano, the bubbling finale of the Third a most happy experience. The Fifth and Sixth come from a very likeable Grand Piano made in Austria in the 1790 that makes a most weighty finale to both sonatas. The multi-award winning Michael Tsalka is obviously a very fine exponent of the keyboard…Very good sound”.
David’s Review Corner, David Denton, November 2013. Review of Tuerk´s “Kenner” Sonatas, a Grand Piano Recording.


Review of the Nordic Historical Keyboard Festival, by Prof. Peter Sykes. Fall, 2013.
For the full review, please see:
"Sonatas (Collection I+II): Artaria Editions, herausgegeben von Michael Tsalka. Diese 1. und 2. Sammlung ist nunmehr erschienen, und bieten somit dem geneigten Spieler die Gelegenheit sich damit auch praktisch zu beschäftigen. Vorab sei gesagt, dass es sich lohnt. Die Sonaten sind für Liebhaber technisch beherrschbar, interpretatorisch sollten einige Überlegungen angestellt werden, vor allem, wenn nur ein Instrument, sei es Clavichord, Cembalo oder Fortepiano (auch modernes Klavier) zur Verfügung steht. Die Ausgaben sind von sehr guter Qualität, gut lesbar, Gott sei Dank ohne Fingersätze und entsprechen, soweit von mir überschaubar den Originaldrucken. Die Einleitung ist sehr informativ und sollte schon gelesen werden"
Review of a critical edition of Tuerk Sonatas for Artaria Editions, NZ ( Nikolas von Oldershaus​en, November 2013."


...Michael Tsalka's playing is artistic throughout: his tempi in particular seems always very well judged...Tsalka's sensitive shaping and intense commitment to this music give a very satisfying result, making this neglected repertoire available as its deserves to be (four of the Sonatas are world premiere recordings)..."
Harpsichord and Fortepiano Publication, U. K. Review by Adrian Lenthall of the Leichte Sonatas recording for Naxos. October, 2013.


"Kuopio, in Finland´s eastern lake area, in home to a fine array of clavichords, harpsichords, fortepianos, and baroque organs. During the 2nd Nordic Historical Keyboard Festival (14-23 August 2013) they were featured in 21 concerts and a course for students, organized by artistic directors and virtuoso performers Anna Maria McElwain (Finland) and Michael Tsalka (Israel/Holland)...The diverse repertoire ranged from early vocal intabulations to newly commisssioned works for clavichord (Leonardo Coral, Mexico), fortepiano (Liu Qing, China) and harpsichord (Mari-Anne Hof, Holland)...
Harpsichord and Fortepiano Publication, U. K. Review by Prof. Joyce Lindorff, describing the Nordic Historical Keyboard Festival. October 2013.


Historical Keyboard Society of North America publication, U.S.A., October 2013:
...."The festival is the brain child of two wonderful Musicians: Michael Tsalka (Israel/Netherlands) and Anna Maria McElwain (Finland).....Tsalka offered a preview of his newest recording with two lovely Wanhal Capriccios....Tsalka and McElwain, in addition to deft management, were on stage for much of the festival. Their high level artistic direction was matched by their artistry as performers...."
Professor Joyce Lindorff, a selection from a review describing the Nordic Historical Keyboard Festival, 2013.


Goldberg Variations, recorded for the Paladino label:
..."Michael Tsalka es un joven instrumentista israelí formado en Estados Unidos que tiene cosas que decir y que aportar en esta obra archigrabada y con frecuencia maltratada. Plantea las Goldberg como lo que son: una progresión no sólo en los intervalos de los cánones que van jalonando el recorrido hasta la repetición final del aria, sino en la complejidad del pensamiento bachiano y en la dificultad interpretativa de sus compases. Tsalka introduce ornamentaciones sorprendentes..."
Ritmo, Spain, October 2013


Türk recording CD's 1-4 on Naxos
...In het komende EPTA-congres zal Michael Tsalka een lecture-recital over Turk geven. Wie deze twee dubbel-CD's eenmaal gehoord heeft zal zijn optreden in Amsterdam niet willen missen!
Christo Lelie - EPTA Nederland 2013/2


Goldberg Variations, recorded for the Paladino label:
...Michael Tsalka è un validissimo interprete israeliano, che si è voluto cimentare con il clavicordo, dopo aver eseguito le Variazioni Goldberg al clavicembalo, all’organo da camera, al fortepiano e al pianoforte, impadronendosi, in tal modo, delle varie timbricità ottenute da questi strumenti. Ma la sua esecuzione sul clavicordo (per la precisione su due splendide copie costruite da Sebastian Niebler, il primo basato su un modello del 1796 appartenuto a Johann Christoph Georg Schiedmayer, dal suono più lirico e delicato, il secondo sulla base di modelli tedeschi e svedesi risalenti al tardo Settecento, dal timbro più scuro e potente) nulla risente delle modalità e dell’“imprinting” dato dalle altre tastiere. Tsalka è un interprete che fa della sensibilità e dell’idiomaticità il punto di partenza per stabilire un rapporto intimo, essenziale, basilare tra lo strumento in questione e le Variazioni Goldberg, le quali escono “inscheletrite”, rapprese in un suono che è a dir poco rarefatto, conchiuso in una dimensione diafana. Abituati alle sontuose interpretazioni di clavicembalisti e pianisti, che si sbizzarriscono nell’inzupparle di orpelli e abbellimenti timbrici, di fronte all’esecuzione di questo artista, non si può non restare emozionati, rapiti e coinvolti da un suono così semplice, umile, povero nel senso “ricco” del termine. 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, September 2013


"Grand Piano presenta la primera grabación de las Sonatas para teclado de Daniel Gottlob Türk (1759-1813). El prácticamente desconocido compositor y pedagogo alemán es reconocido principalmente por su Klavierschule, un completo tratado para clavicordio cuya influencia llegó años más tarde hasta las clases del mismísimo Beethoven. Como creador, Türk veía en la sonata el vehículo idóneo para expresar sus pensamientos y compuso a lo largo de su carrera quince colecciones, de las cuales se incluyen aquí las dos primeras. A la novedad del registro se suma la variedad de instrumentos con que Michael Tsalka aborda las obras: clavicordio, espineta, clave, pianoforte y el extraño piano tangente conviven, como en la época de Türk, para aportar un distintivo tímbrico adecuado al carácter de cada sonata.
En lo interpretativo, además de un amplio conocimiento de las obras, Tsalka posee un dominio razonable de todos los teclados que le permite articular con claridad las líneas y dotar a las melodías de un buen fraseo. Siempre atento al detalle, el israelí cuida mucho las velocidades aportando expresividad a los movimientos lentos, mientras que los rápidos se desarrollan con estilo y brillantez".

Ritmo, Spain, Jordi Caturla González. July 2013


"…The charming pieces contain more than their share of individuality and compositional elan; the Sinfonia in D and Sonata in E-flat, from the second collection, are two fine works with modest but expressively substantial movements. [Tsalka’s] readings are spirited and appropriate… Enthusiasts and students of classical music should take note of Tsalka’s project; a rival recording is not likely soon".
American Record Guide, July 2013, Rob Haskins.


...”Türk’s sonatas are presented by the specialist keyboard performer Michael Tsalka with interpretative pulchritude—generally paused tempi, clear and abundant ornamentation, and the necessary intensity to make them attractive. Tsalka makes use of all the variety of registers offered by the four historical keyboards employed
J.L.A., Revista Ritmo (Spain), September 2013


"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"
MusicWeb International, August 2013


“…vermag es Tsalka, die feinen Schattierungen und Farben, die reichen Affekte in Türk´s Sonaten schön herauszuarbeiten. Man spürt dabei seine Begeisterung für diese Musik, und die ist alles andere als unberechtigt: Was als ”leichte Sonaten”, ...gar als Unterrichtsliteratur daherkommt, offenbart einen grossen musikalischen Reichtum, von höchst sensiblen, melancholischen Formen bis zu Stücken überschaeumender Spielfreude, ja sogar Virtuosität. Tsalka versteht es in seiner Einspielung, sehr viel von diesem Reichtum zu transportieren. Darin besteht schon fuer sich genommen ein besonderer Reiz der zu empfehlenden Aufnahme. Dass hier allgemein ein guter Zugang zu Türk´s Musik eröffnet wird, dürfte aber auch für Clavichordliebhaber – seien sie musikalische Profis oder Amateurspieler, für die die vorgestellten Sonaten vielleicht weniger spieltechnische Herausforderungen, aber umso effektvollere, prägnant kurze Miniaturen bereithalten – erfreulich sein…”
Heiko Hansjosten, DCS (Germany), August 2013


Goldberg Variations, recorded for the Paladino label: "exquisite musicianship" ... "There is no doubt the sound of the clavichord is an acquired taste, probably even more so than the harpsichord, but for those with an interest in historical authenticity who wish to deepen their understanding and appreciation of this keyboard masterpiece, Tsalka has much to tell."
Byzantion Art Music, July 2013


”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


"These two double-discs from Naxos's blue riband Grand Piano brand, released five months apart, are the first volumes in Michael Tsalka's traversal of Daniel Gottlob Türk's 48 published keyboard sonatas. The fact that these are all - astonishingly - premiere recordings is reason enough to send connoisseurs flocking to retailers, but in fact these are a music historian's dream come true: Tsalka performs on nine different and often extremely rare period instruments…. the sheer variety of tone and tuning, let alone Tsalka's expert reading of Türk's highly expressive, idiomatic music, make these albums essential listening for all lovers of good music in authentic performance…. In the sonatas from the 1776 and 1777 Collections, Türk is at his most expansive, his rhetorical yet sensitive music full of melodic, rhythmic and dynamic diversity guaranteed to gratify performer and listener alike"
Music Web International, Byzantion, May 2013


"In his liner-notes Michael Tsalka states that the title of the sonatas shouldn't give the impression that this music is simple. That is important as it only emphasizes what we know from other sources: the term 'amateur' - in Germany often called 'Liebhaber' - is not comparable with what we now usually call an 'amateur'. Many amateurs had considerable skills and required music which was challenging enough to keep them busy. That is exactly what Türk does in these sonatas. Their content is also interesting enough, as they contain many strong contrasts of Affekt, and in this respect reflect the style which we know from a composer such as Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. The titles of various movements indicate the expressive content, for instance 'con tenerezza' (with tenderness), 'con espressione' or 'innocentemente´....
....expressing my gratitude for Michael Tsalka's undertaking of Türk's keyboard music. In most parts of this set his playing is fine and enjoyable. In my collection I have only one piece from Türk's pen, played by Paul Simmonds on the clavichord. I doubt whether much more is available on disc which makes this production all the more valuable. Those readers who are interested in keyboard music of the 18th century definitely shouldn't miss this one. They may also look for the previous set of two discs, entitled "Keyboard Sonatas, Collections I and II" (GP627-28)".

Music Web International, Johan van Veen, May 2013


Daniel Gottlob Türk (1750-1813): 12 Keyboard Sonatas - Collection I (6 Sonatas) (1776) & Collection II (6 Sonatas) (1777)
Daniel Gottlob Türk (1750-1813): 12 Easy Keyboard Sonatas (1783) - Collection I (6 Sonatas) & Collection II (6 Sonatas)
Art Music Reviews, Byzantion, UK, March 2013


British Clavichord Society Review, UK, Feb. 2013.
John Irving: Review of Tuerk´s CDs 1 and 2:
"...Tuerk emerges from this recording as a composer whose command of material is certainly on a par with much of Haydn’s solo keyboard sonata output and who deserves to be considerably better known (justifying projected later volumes in the recording project). It is confidently played by Michael Tsalka on all five of the instruments included on these discs. A particular highlight for me is the E flat sonata (played on the Thÿm piano), on which he reveals a good number of beautiful colours, not least in its central Adagio assai. Thÿm’s piano is a really superb instrument, with a full tone, contrasting across its registers (silvery at the top, dark and nutty towards the bass), and with a crystal-clear immediacy of sound, most especially in the treble register an octave or so above middle C, exploited to good effect in the Haydnesque minuet finale of the E flat sonata. Another superb match of musical and instrumental character is the finale of the A major sonata, played here on the Späth & Schmahl tangent piano with great verve....these two discs offer a feast of stunning original keyboards showed off to good effect in music of great distinctiveness, stylishly performed. Hearing Türk’s music communicating with such strength makes me re-read his Klavierschule with greater confidence that here we have a theorist actually worth his salt in the real world!"


Review of Naxos (Grand Piano) recording of Tuerk's Keyboard Sonatas 1-12 Grand Piano GP 629- 30 (2CDs)
David Denton, David's Review Corner, Classical Music Review, Sep. 4
"...Cast in three movements the Leichte Sonatas offer far more than passing melodic pleasures…[Tsalka’s] playing is neat and unfussy; the sound is excellent and the Sigal Collection in Boston, USA, must be delighted to have the publicity of this release…”


Musical Pointers, UK
Feb. 2013, by Peter Grahame Woolf Reviewing Tuerk CDs 1-4:
"Several marvellous discs of rare 18C. music...Tsalka's releases of solo keyboard music by Türk are especially exciting to me, having regularly been plied with Türk's advice on interpretation when learning to play clavichord with Paul Simmonds, who has recorded extensively and regularly quoted Türk in his classes.
But this was a first opportunity to have heard the whole of his Easy Keyboard Sonatas of 1783. Not so easy, especially as to be heard in exemplary interpretations, flexible and with subtle nuances, by Michael Tsalka on four interesting and fully described historic instruments. He is preparing a critical edition of all Türk's sonatas for Artaria...Michael Tsalka's first double-CD collection of Türk's sonatas (not the "easy" ones) is equally desirable, with authoritative essays about the importance of his famous Klavierschule (1789): Instructions in Playing the Clavier for Teachers and Students, the actual music, and another about the original instruments Tsalka has used, each of them featured in both the sets..."


"Cope", Spain
Feb. 1: By Carlos de Matesanz Viernes Reviewing Tuerk CDs 1-2:
"A discovery of a fascinating composer...Daniel Gottlob Türk, a student of a student of Bach and a contemporary of Haydn and Beethoven. Michael Tsalka interprets in a double CD with 12 Sonatas, performing on old historical instruments, fortepianos closer to the clavichord then to the romantic piano"


Review of Naxos (Grand Piano) recording of Tuerk's Keyboard Sonatas 1-12
Grand Piano GP 627- 28 (2CDs)
Nikolas von Oldershausen
"....Unfortunately, hardly any of the 48 Sonatas by Türk were available. But sometimes miracles happen. Michael Tsalka has arisen to record all Sonatas, and the first 12 are available. The recording is very promising because of the high keyboard skills of Tsalka, as well as the exquisite instruments (all original instruments)...."


October 18, 2012, By Caleb Duda
Trio Concert (Ticciati/Tsalka/Erdstrom)
Schumann: "Tsalka did a brilliant fast finger-work on the piano that caught my attention...Schnelzer: "Tsalka was lively and energetic on the piano". Shostakovich:"The piano had a somewhat greater part, performed masterfully by Tsalka, as the left and right half were often doing two different things entirely, giving almost the sound of two separate pianos"....


Early Music (Oxford University Press) Pekka Vapaavuori, November 30, 2012 “Tsalka enjoys performing on both historical keyboards and the modern piano, often in the same concert....Coral’s Constelaciones for fortepiano, delicate and rich with nuances, received its world première in an interpretation worthy of its stature by Michael Tsalka”


"Excellent interpretation"...
Marc Vignal, Clasica, France October, 2012. To read the whole review, see:


Review of Naxos (Grand Piano) recording of Tuerk's Keyboard Sonatas 1-12
Grand Piano GP 627- 28 (2CDs)
Bayern Classic (Radio) Klaus Meyer, October 7, 2012
“Michael Tsalka, who is also completing an edition of Türk's sonatas, is familiar with the oeuvre of the composer and theorist like no other; he interprets the music in a congenial manner -- sometimes pleasant and playful, sometimes dreamy and pensive, and, of course, often virtuosic. This double CD à la Türk there is not just an abundance of music, but also a beautiful selection of instruments, which presents various historical keyboards from the period”ding of Tuerk's Keyboard Sonatas 1-12"
For the whole review, see:


Review of Naxos (Grand Piano) recording of Tuerk's Keyboard Sonatas 1-12
Grand Piano GP 627- 28 (2CDs)
"....Unfortunately, hardly any of the 48 Sonatas by Türk were available. But sometimes miracles happen. Michael Tsalka has arisen to record all Sonatas, and the first 12 are available. The recording is very promising because of the high keyboard skills of Tsalka, as well as the exquisite instruments (all original instruments)...."


Review of Naxos (Grand Piano) recording of Tuerk's Keyboard Sonatas 1-12
Grand Piano GP 627- 28 (2CD's)
David Denton, David's Review Corner, Classical Music Review, Sep. 4, 2012
"If we had not become so besotted by everything composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, we might have spared a thought for Daniel Gottlob Turk. Born in 1750, the year of Bach’s death, he had a solid education in the German style of composition, placing him at some distance from the outgoing flamboyance of the Italian keyboard style we have come to know from the works of Domenico Scarlatti. Turk’s music has the expert craftsmanship that takes no liberties nor does it take musical styles forwards, his ability to create instantly memorable melodic material not particularly evident from this disc, though at the same time it is easily and readily enjoyable. That the discs are inventive comes from Michael Tsalka’s use of five historical keyboards, for, as the excellent notes with the disc explain, Turk lived at a time when there was in use more diversity of keyboard instruments than in any other musical period. So with the clavichord, spinet, harpsichord, fortepiano and tangent piano, we hear how music of the period can change depending on the instrument used...Try track 1, disc 1- the opening of the C major - played on the spinet, then move to track 4 - the opening of the B flat major - and the music springs to life with the added piquancy in the harpsichord.sound. Then to the robust but more muffled sound of the fortepiano in the following D major sonata. The tangent piano, an instrument now long forgotten, was an effort to add colours as if combining a harpsichord and fortepiano, while the clavichord can sound unkempt in comparison with all that has gone before...He is a nimble player who brings admirable clarity irrespective of instrument, his tempos seem well chosen, though to an extent may have been dictated by the instrument. All are world premiere recordings, and it is true to say that the second book of six is the more weighty and attractive. The sound quality is excellent, and as a curiosity it is not to be missed"


Tangents, Boston Clavichord Society, U.S.A.
Prof. Pekka Vapaavuoru, Fall, 2012
"Tsalka keeps a firm grip on his multi-instrumentalist identity and often performs on several historical keyboards and the modern piano at the same concert"...His clavichord performances included Mozart's variations in F Major, K. 613 and Schubert's Impromptu in G-Flat Major. As I listened, I found myself understanding what C. F. D. Schubart (1739-1791) meant about clavichord playing when he burst out in praise of its richness in nuance and insurmountable spirit..."


Review in Haaretz on 5/9/2012

גלריה מוסיקה קלאסית
 צלקה עם גולדברג
 הפסנתרן הישראלי מיכאל צלקה (בנו של הסופר דן צלקה, המתגורר בחו"ל זה שנים ובסיסו כיום בשטוקהולם) ינגן את "ואריאציות גולדברג" של באך, בפסנתר מודרני, ולפני כן ישוחח על היצירה. צלקה, שלמד באירופה ובארצות הברית (בעל דוקטורט בפסנתר מאוניברסיטת טמפל בפילדלפיה), הוא פסנתרן ואמן כלי מקלדת המופיע בפסנתר מודרני רגיל, ביצירות מכל התקופות, וגם בפסנתר פטישים, בצ'מבלו, בעוגב ובקלוויקורד. בקרוב אף יקליט בווינה לחברת "פלדינו" את ואריאציות גולדברג בשני קלוויקורדים (המוצבים זה ליד זה). הוא נוהג לבצע את היצירה גם בעוגב.

בהרצאתו בתל אביב יצביע צלקה על הזיקה בין קטעים ריקודיים של מחברים בארוקיים אחרים ובין האריה הפותחת את ואריאציות גולדברג של באך. באחדים מקטעים אלה, הוא אומר, יש תיבות עם מהלך מלודי מקביל לנושא של האריה הפותחת, של באך, וקו הבאס זהה. הדבר מעלה אפשרות שלא באך הוא שחיבר את מנגינת הסרבנד הזאת. האירוע (הרצאה תחילה) יהיה מחר ב-19:00 במרכז למוסיקה על שם פליציה בלומנטל בתל אביב


El Sol del Bajo, Mexico
Laura Suarez, March 25, 2012
“A sublime recital....Tsalka presented a marvelous program with Bach, Mozart, Schubert and Viktor Ullmann. The hall was filled with enchanting music, and a great wave of applause followed the last piece....”


HKSNA Newsletter
Fall 2012, Review of Conclave at Cincinnati College of Music, Ohio, U.S.A.:
Prof. Max Yount
"Michael Tsalka then delighted us all with his flair in old Spanish music of Torres, Soler and Martinez; and new Mexican music by Leonardo Coral and Federico Ibarra Groth".


Review of the festival omodernt, Stockholm (Dagens Nyheters), 18.6.2012
"Harpsichordist Michael Tsalka began by improvising on a Monteverdi theme, moved to a Mozart Gigue, then improvised towards Hungarian Rock Chaconne by Ligetti, a performance that remained in the audience's memory long after it was over"...


"Great sensibility and elegance", by Diego Arias
Piano Recital at the Botanical Gardens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, March 18, 2012
"A wonderful harmony was achieved between natural beauty, the singular singing of birds, and the marvelous dexterity, great sensibility and elegance in the performance of Michael Tsalka, who played pieces by Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, Liszt and Viktor Ullmann"...

Tsalka at the 2011 Boston Early Music Festival Keyboard Mini-Festival - Christa Rakich
Christa Rakich is a distinguished performer on the organ and early keyboards.
She Jives in Connecticut but is often seen and heard elsewhere.
     "The 2011 Boston Early Music Festival incerporated a Keyboard Mini-Festival, which took place on June I7 and was directed by BCS President Peter Sykes. The final event of the Mini-Festival featured two clavichord recitals, the first by Michael Tsalka and the second by Miklas Spányi. Both used a 5-octave unfretted clavichord after Schiedmayer by Allan Winkler of Medford, Massachusetts.
      Michael Tsalka's program juxtaposed variations and fantasies, beginning with the Diferencias sobre "El canto Ilano del Caballero" of Antonio de Cabezón. This piece is well-known to organists. Tsalka's rendition was deliberate and slow, as if trying to capture the weight of a larger, sustaining wind instrument. Yet his rhythm was elastic, moving moment by moment, gesture by gesture. The final vanishing arpeggio was charming.
      Johann Jakob Froberger's Fantasia II displayed more serieus counterpoint. The clavichord has the capacity to sound plucked, and ir was here that Tsalka exploired that color with a gentle stil brisé. Close your eyes, and you could swear you were hearing a lute.
      We retumed to the variation form with J.S. Bach's Aria Variata in A minor, BWV 989, alla maniera italiana. This is an early work, written in 1710, at a time when Bach undertook serieus study of Vivaldi, Marcello, Corelli and others. Tsalka played 6 of the 10 variations in this set, spinning long phrases, with a delightful inégal and a lovely violinistic, vocal quality in the pianissimo sections.
      Another Spaniard, some 150 years after Cabezón, Joseph de Torres (ca. 1670-1738) authored several pieces rediscovered in Mexico City in the 1990s and published in 2009. Among these is Obra de 1 torso bajo. A work of varied character, it alternates block chords with contrapuntal fantasy. On the clavichord, the result is often excessive action noise. Although this insistent piece requires the flaming reeds and varied registrations of the Spanish Baroque organ, it is still a rare delight to hear a "new" old keyboard work.
     Tsalka maintains "Everty clavichord recital should include a piece by Emanuel Bach. The Fantasia in C, Wq. 59/6 was his selectien for this one, and he showed himself a master of the grand gesture. His fast arpeggiation was mesmerizing, and his high notes were squeezed to their expressive limit. One recurring motive of the piece is an ascending arpeggio that ends in a quarter-note, followed by a higher-pitched comment of 2 eighth-notes. Tsalka routinely made the quarter into an eighth, which upended the rhythm of the comment, to questionahle effect. But one must be allowed some rhythmic freedom in a fantasia. His final cadence was abrupt and quiet, a Tsalka signature whose surprise evokes an appreciative chuckle from the audience.
      The program ended with two sets of variations from Mozart, Six Variations on "Salve Tu Domirae" in F, K. 398 and Eight Variations on "Ein Weib ist das herrlichste Ding" in F, K. 613. The "Salve" variations incorporate tendinitis-inducing extended trills in each hand, and Tsalka handled them effortlessly. This piece had been played in a fortepiano recital in the previous session. One listener who had heard both concerts remarked that the fortepiano performance was the more introverted. Tsalka is very much informed by the technique and language of both the fortepiano and the modem piano. A musical extrovert, he tends toward the dramatic, the surprising, the flamboyant. Despite the occasional humming along (Pablo Casals was also guilty of this annoyance), this was an outstanding performance."

TANGENTS! The Bulletin of the Boston Clavichord Society, Winter, 2011

“Tsalka showed almost incredible virtuosity throughout…”
The Berkshire Review, July 6, Michael Miller, following a recital at the Boston Early Music Festival
“Michael Tsalka's performances were both virtuosic and interpretively revealing. The Allan Winkler clavichord sounded rich and varied in color, entirely equal to the great range of nuance and hue Tsalka elicited from it in his expressive readings of music ranging from Cabezón in the early to middle sixteenth century to late Mozart. It was fascinating, in fact, to hear Mozart's rich, but seldom played variations on Paisiello's "Salve Tu, Domine," K. 398, played earlier by Christoph Hammer, once again on the clavichord, an instrument Mozart himself used for practice and composition while travelling. Cabezón's Variations and Froberger's Fantasia II led into Bach's "other" set of variations, the Aria Variata BWV 989, like the Mozart, seldom heard. The clavichord seems the perfect instrument for C. P. E. Bach’s mercurial ruminations, and I never imagined how splendid Mozart could sound. Tsalka showed almost incredible virtuosity throughout, but especially in the Mozart. K. 398 and the even more demanding Variations on "Ein Weib ist das herrlichste Ding," K. 613., which followed and concluded the concert”.


“Depth and sensitivity”
Review of a recital at the Boston Early Music Festival
"Michael Tsalka began with a variety of works from relatively unknown composers: starting with the Renaissance composer Antonio de Cabezón, Tsalka continued with the better known Froberger, a set of Bach variations entitled Aria Variata in A minor, BWV 989, and then a short piece from the Spanish Baroque composer Joseph de Torres. All were well-played and showed the keyboard’s wide range of tonal depth and its sensitivity to the lightest touch..."


“Tsalka is one of the most important harpsichordists in the world today”
Jornada de Oriente, Mexico, May 3, Paula Carrizosa
“Michael Tsalka, uno de los intérpretes del clavecín más importantes a nivel mundial, ofrecerá dos conciertos en Puebla: uno en la Capilla del Rosario y otro en la unidad habitacional La Margarita, espacios en los que interpretará las Variaciones de Goldberg una pieza clave de Johann Sebastian Bach, que “es capaz de introducir al público en el mundo barroco del siglo XVIII gracias a la belleza, la universalidad y la riqueza de la obra”, tal como definió el músico.”


“A Master Pianist”
East Central College Newsletter, April 24, Prof. Knudson
“The 4th Concert showed that making great Music does not require a performance by hundreds. One person will do, when it is the quality of a Michael Tsalka, Master Pianist. His program combined early music (from the mid 1500’s) to the two great classical composers, Beethoven and Chopin, and three very modern composers, two of whom are still alive, and the 3rd, Bela Bartok, died in 1945.
Beethoven and Chopin, two of the greatest classical composers of all time, are among the most difficult to perform. Tsalka has such mastery of the keyboard, such absolute control, that his hands seem to DANCE over the keys, even when he is playing the most demanding and difficult passages, as though it was all effortless. He also knows how to move from quiet and soft to laud and furious with ease, making the pieces come alive. Bartok’s “Diary of a Fly” sounded just like the buzzing of a couple of flies around the piano---Tsalka’s fingers making the keys fly to get the proper affect.
Talking about difficult to perform---again, with those modern sharp staccato dissonances---check out a friend of Tsalka, the modern Mexican composer Prof. Leonardo Coral, and his Sonata No. 4, composed in Mexico City, 1997. Coral, along with the other moderns, Bartok and Shostakovich---are all in the same class: very difficult to perform. Coral’s Sonata ends with the directions, “Fast and energetically”---requiring both hands to run faster and faster over the keyboard”.


“An enthralling night of music”, March 3, Johnny Liton
…”The fascinating affair had well-heeled guests enjoying the
enthralling music of world-renowned and award-winning
pianist Dr. Michael Tsalka, who impressed everyone with his repertoire
from the baroque to the contemporary”…


Michael Tsalka in Concert
Peter Sykes, BCS Tangents winter 2010
"The Boston Clavichord Society presented Michael Tsalka in concert on Sunday, June 6…
He is recording Tiirk's 48 keyboard sonatas and is also making a critical edition of these works for Artaria Editions in New Zealand. Tsalka presented a varied program of music on two instruments: a large Goble unfretted clavichord, and a smaller fretted instrument by Peter Fisk. His program ranged from Sweelinck, Rameau (the first time this writer has ever heard Rameau on a clavichord) and Bach, to Türk, Mozart, and Kull, and even a work by a contemporary composer, Stephen Dodgson. The Dodgson piece, two movements from a Suite for Clavichord written in 1967, contained wistful melodies and bitonal harmonies well suited for the instrument. Tsalka is a strong performer, whose personality shines forth in every phrase. Moments of tender delicacy alternated with vigor and unbridled strength in fortissimo passages; his wit was shown on the very end of the Mozart variations on "Salve tu, Domine," where the final resolving chord was given very late and very short. The variations by Kull on "Gubben Noak" were almost pianistic in their virtuosic flowery writing, but Tsalka made them convincing on the clavichord. His playing of the Türk sonatas, ideal clavichord music from almost every point of view, was natural and unaffected, musical and logical, with much care given to the shaping of phrases. Tsalka has a way of imparting to each beginning a certain ‘come hither’ quality; the listener feels fully engaged from the start of each piece. A brewing thunderstorm and cloudburst during the second half gave some additional drama to certain passages, but did nothing to distract the rapt audience from the recital."


"A standing ovation"
Suacona news paper, Dumaguete, Philippines - Feb. 2011
"Silliman University welcomed 2011 with piano music from two of the world’s best of the two was Michael Tsalka, who performed at the Claire Isabel Luce Auditorium...He entertained his
audience with classical and Mexican contemporary music. His performance resurrected Albert Faurot’s favorite instrument, the 1964 Frank Hubbard harpsichord...he shared notes before a composition was played, making the concert truly educational for the students, who also gave him a standing ovation, and surprised their teachers for staying until the end of the concerts (an encouraging sign that classical music appreciation is becoming popular among the young at Silliman). "


"A Captivating Performance"
Expat Newspaper, Philippines, Jan. 30, 2011 By Astra C. Alegre
“...Together with the country’s own Filharmonika orchestra under conductor Gerard Salonga, Tsalka’s performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 captivated everyone in the audience...”


"Eloquence, brilliance, and enlightening commentary"
Philippine Star, January 22 By Rosalinda L. Orosa
"Last Sunday, a recital featured young Israeli pianist Michael Tsalka who gave in effect a lecture-demonstration on “Five Hundred Years of Keyboard Music: A Journey through Different Times and Countries”. His program consisted of pieces by Antonio de Cabezon (1510-1566), F. Couperin (1688-1733), a concerto by Bach (1685-1750), a sonata by Mozart (1756-1791), “Hungarian Melody” by Schubert (1797-1828), two Etudes by Chopin (1810-1849), a piece by Bela Bartok (1881-1945), a piece by Fedrico Ibarra Groth (1946-) and a Suite for Harpsichord dedicated to Tsalka by Mexican composer Leonardo Coral (1962-). Different styles and schools eloquently surfaced in Tsalka’s renditions, each enriched by enlightening commentary. Indeed, one had taken a crash course in music from pre-classic to contemporary, the lecture accompanied by brilliant demonstration on the piano"


"A smashing success"
From the Global Times, Beijing, Dec. 29 by Lin Kan Hsuang
"A very special musical duo visited Beijing to deliver a fascinating concert this December, the violinist Hugo Ticciati and the pianist Michael Tsalka....Their concert was a smashing success."
You can see the whole review here


"Remarkable virtuosity and sensitiveness"
Composer Leonardo Coral, following a performance of his "Fantastic Pieces" by Ticciati and Tsalka at the National Museum of Art (MUNAL), Mexico City, October 24, 2010
"Hugo Ticciati and Michael Tsalka are outstanding musicians. They played my "Fantastic pieces" for violin and piano with remarkable virtuosity and sensitiveness. Their performance had a wide range of contrasts in colour, rhythmical power and lyrical expression".<


"Great finesse, charm, and clarity"
From the British Clavichord Society Review, July 2010
Review of "201 years of Grace" CD by Paula Woods
"The program begins, however, with Twelve Variations in C Major on Gubben Noak, a popular Swedish drinking song, by the relatively unknown Christian Kull…It demonstrates the crispy robust tone of this clavichord, and is played with great charm and clarity…It is followed by more substantial fare: Mozart’s Six Variations K. 398, and his Six Variations, K. 581. Michael delivers these pieces with verse and wit, his refined yet expressive articulation bringing out their good humor.
But it is with the two sonatas by Daniel Gottlob Türk that the recital really gets into its stride….Michael explores the proto-romantic elements of the music, revealing more of the Lindholm’s expressive potential. The third movement of the D major sonata (Balleto, allegro) is especially lively in mood, while the delightful second movement of the C Major Sonata (Andante, innocemente) recalls some plangent moments in the music of C.P. E. Bach.
…The Haydn Sonata is played with great finesse, and the sound is very-well balanced, with each part coming through clearly.
…Tsalka’s sympathetic choice of repertoire and highly elegant playing make this a highly worthwhile acquisition for listeners with an interest in these important late clavichords, and their music."


"Much to be admired"
Review of "201 years of Grace" CD
Clavichord International, June 2010 by Julian Perkins
"There is much to be admired in this recital, not least the thoughtful and varied program. Tsalka opens with Kull’s Twelve Variations. He plays with both conviction and clarity, and achieves dramatic cohesion is this and two other Mozart variation sets…Brilliant variations are tackled with aplomb, and there is a pungency to unexpected harmonic deviations.
…Scintillating embellishments proliferate in the third movement of Türk Sonata in D major, and there is, by contrast, effective use of silence at the open-ended phrases that permeate the Andante Innocemente…the pacing of this --movements concluding appoggiatura was my overall highpoint.
Tsalka’s impressively declamatory performance of Mozart’s Sonata, K. 311, concludes this recital.
…Tsalka is evidently a true musician, and he brilliantly succeeds…"


"As a team they make sparks fly"
Joyce Lindorff, December 2010
Associate Professor of Keyboard Studies, Temple University, Philadelphia
President, Southeastern Historical Keyboard Society
"Harpsichordists Sonia Lee and Michael Tsalka were each outstanding students of mine, in very different times and places. Each had that magical gift called duende in Spanish. To my joy, they have doubled their individual talent and virtuosity to bring us the best-loved as well as less-explored literature for two harpsichordists. As a team they make sparks fly."


"Deep knowledge of style and interpretation techniques"
Leopoldo Pérez Robledo
Artistic Director, Ciclo de Música Antigua para Teclado (Early Keyboard Music Cycle) Buenos Aires, Argentina November, 2010
"The Lee-Tsalka Duo visited Buenos Aires and performed in several concerts with great sensitivity and passion. Having deep knowledge of the style and interpretation techniques, the duo performs the repertoire so well. Despite their youth, the two artists are mature and musically expressive, presenting a unique combination of grace and freshness in their keyboard playing."


"An intellectual philosopher"
Institut für Bildnerisches Denken - Piano Recital
Ober Badische Zeitung, Juergen Scharf, 23.09. 2009
"A proven connoisseur of Early Music is pianist and Cembalist Michael Tsalka, who developed and aligned the program with great drama...His Byrd Variations were a special moment for lovers of more intimate music...One especially notices Tsalkas strength in the Baroque and Classical periods...He is an intellectual philosopher, who has much to say about keyboard literature, a highly intelligent presenter, with great musical knowledge."


“Expressivity and naturalness”
Prospero -- Forum for Old Music Frankfurt am Main- Höchst, 13.09.2009 Harpsichord recital: from Byrd to Bartok
“The recital was a unique opportunity to compare the diverse sounds of many instruments… The Tuerk sonatas were entirely convincing played on clavichord; through the fine use of dynamics and touch, Tsalka performed the phrases expressively, allowing the rhythm to flow naturally...He seemed to love the beautiful Tuerk sonatas…”


“Rich musicality and knowledge”
Report of the 30the Clavichord Days of the German Clavichord Society in Halle/Saale, 26-28 September, 2008, Hartmut Schlums
"Michael Tsalka plans a complete critical edition of all 48 Sonatas by Türk…The chosen sonatas contained a remarkable level of expression, empfindsamer style and vast cantabile possibilities, especially in the slow movements…one was often reminded of Haydn in the temperamental and humorous fast movements…Tsalka demonstrated the large scale of his rich musicality and knowledge”


"Recital on Six Instruments"
Hoechst Musikalisch Concert Series, Frankfurt, Germany
Recital on a double virginal, Flemish harpsichord, Italian harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, and clavichord.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Elizabeth Risch, 23. 09. 2009
"Michael Tsalka began his concert playing on the double virginal. He then performed Sweelinck’s variations on a double manual Flemish harpsichord, pieces by Rameau on a sweet sounding Italian Harpsichord, and Mozart on a strong lute-harpsichord. Two sonatas by Daniel Gottlob Türk, which were played on Clavichord, was another high point. The restrained sound of the clavichord made the audience listen with increased concentration and created a highly intense atmosphere."


"Strong contrasts between rhythmical and elegiac phrases….pieces unheard by audiences before"
Handel House in Halle, Germany
Lecture-Recital for the Deutsche Clavichord Societät
"Clavichord Days", Michael Zapf, 05.10.2008.
"Michael Tsalka’s lecture-recital presented Daniel Gottlob Türk’s keyboard sonatas, with examples performed on a Harlan clavichord that belonged to Cornelia Auerbach. Only 4 of Türk’s 48 clavier sonatas have been available in print, and Dr. Tsalka is planning a full edition and a recording of all of them. Türk’s sonatas were very popular during his life….there were several examples of sudden empfindsam contrasts in slow movements, changes of furious arpeggios and quiet moments, strong contrasts between rhythmical and elegiac phrases. All of these pieces were unheard by audiences before."


"Delightful performance of Schubert"
Julita International Festival, Sweden
Katrineholm-Kuriren, Catarina Nitz, 08.02.2008.
"Michael Tsalka delighted the public with his performance on the Pleyel piano. He completed a Schubert Sonata movement…the public thoroughly enjoyed the performance and the completion."


"Harmonious and gay interpretation"
Nydhal Collection, Stockholm - Clavichord Recital
Ditt and datt, Alexander Scarlat, 02.2008
"The talented and learned Michael Tsalka, who is astonishingly modest, provided the listeners at his concert with enjoyable demonstrations of what calm and harmonious musical pleasures this mediaeval (sic) instrument could achieve. His harmonious and gay clavichord interpretation of J. S. Bach’s Concerto No. 7 in F-Major and of Concerto No. 2 in G-Major inspired by Vivaldi was enchanting, while William Byrd’s "O Mystris myne" warmed the hearts of all listeners."


"Meticulously researched Lecture-Recital"
Clavichord International Symposium (07.2007)
Judith Conrad, Report on "Clavichord International" (05.2008)
"Michael Tsalka offered a presentation on Türk, which was meticulously researched and presented with real musicianship."


"A marvel of nuance and expression"
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dr. Edward D. Latham,, 11.30.2007
"This afternoon’s well-attended "recitation-al" or "recital-ation," given by Michael Tsalka (piano) and Dr. Darrel Walters (recitation) . . . provided both reverie and revelation . . . The beauty of the "intermingled" program, however, was that the sonnets could be heard both/either as commentary on the preceding music and/or inspiration for that which followed them, inviting multiple connections—both backwards and forwards—by the audience . . .
The opening selection, "O Mistris Myne" in G Major, by William Byrd, was particularly effective . . . and set a graceful and elegant tone for the performance with its many late-Renaissance ornaments and flourishes….The simple, folk-like melody and flowing homophonic accompaniment of the Chopin, beautifully rendered by Tsalka, created a clear and expressive contrast to the Byrd. . .
Mr. Tsalka’s playing was a marvel of nuance and expression, particularly in the Chopin prelude and the Beethoven sonata. He demonstrated a remarkable ability to accentuate and/or suggest images and ideas from the sonnets through the manipulation of tempo, dynamics, articulation, and phrasing…."


"A virtuoso interpreter"
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Radio Nacional Clásica FM 96.7, Leopoldo Perez, 11.17. 2007
"Maestro Michael Tsalka is a virtuoso interpreter on clavichord, harpsichord, fortepiano, modern piano, and organ…."


"Brilliant piano performance"
Trier, Germany "Trier Volksfreund", 25.08.2007
"The Preludes Op. 28 were performed by Israeli pianist Michael Tsalka. . . they were delivered with ingenious expression which brought to light their nature as truly large musical statements. Tsalka did not need to exaggerate anything in his brilliant piano performance; he played tastefully, with strong expression and beautiful tone quality."


"A special treat"
Recital at the Schubert Club in St. Paul, MN
Newsletter for the Midwestern Historical Keyboard Society, Fall 2007
"Michael Tsalka's mini-recital of "Late Keyboard Music by W.A. Mozart" was a special treat, he is a fine performer; he performed these works on a newly finished pedal fortepiano by Philip Belt, who was in attendance. The compositions were a Gigue in G Major (K. 574), a Sonata in D Major (K. 576), and Six Variations on a Theme from the Clarinet Quintet (K.581). I look forward to hearing him again!"


"He did a great job"
Comment by fortepiano builder, Philip Belt
Recital at the Schubert Club in St. Paul, MN
Fortepiano builder, Philip Belt, "Pal-Item" Richmond, VA, 17.05.2007
"The entire evening was somewhat emotional . . . because fortepiano player Michael Tsalka of Philadelphia played Belt's instruments during the meeting. You should have heard this guy play. He sounded like an angel. People were just in heaven: He did a great job."


"Artistic integrity and great inspiration"
Stockholm, Sweden - Katrinehom Kurier, 21.01.2007
"The program began with a melodic and lyrical interpretation of the F minor Fantasy by Franz Schubert. Michael Tsalka, born in Israel and residing in the United States, has a long list of prizes and awards, as well as performances worldwide with Carl Ponten. With Carl Ponten at the bass part of the piano, we expected the duo to produce utmost ability and the highest level of performance. No one was disappointed: The romantic vein and melodic genius of Schubert was treated with the utmost artistic integrity and inspiration. Tsalka and Ponten live in music and lift each other musically in a remarkable duo. Their playing was dynamic, and the piano sounded like an entire orchestra. The duo has an almost telepathic communication. They are able to change, intuitively, the dynamics and expression during the performance, carefully listening to each other. This capacity is a sign of a grand artistic personality, but also humility and sensitivity for music and for each other. On top of that, they have demonstrated a vast technical knowledge performing difficult passages most brilliantly and with great ease."


"An invigorating performance"
Edinburgh, Scotland - "British Clavichord Society Journal" 10.2006
"The symposium opened on Friday evening with recitals by Paul Simmonds and Michael Tsalka on the Russel Collection’s 1763 clavichord by Johann Adolf Hass . . . A strong sense of melodic narrative was evident in Tsalka’s playing . . .This was an invigorating performance, and there were certainly sparks flying in the closing A minor Sonata."


"Wonderfully expressive"
Recital at Notre Dame University, Indiana
Midwestern Historical Keyboard Society Newsletter. Fall 2006
"Michael Tsalka was the first recitalist on the harpsichord....his program consisted of two Bach works....His playing was wonderfully expressive with nice tempi."


"Outstanding performer"
Boston, Massachussets - Acton and Stow TV Report, 20.9.2005
"Tsalka is an outstanding performer on the piano; you only needed to hear a few minutes of his performance to realize that you were listening to a very special talent. The music ran smoothly off his fingers as he and the grand piano in front of him became one in the creation of the afternoon's music. His last piece in the concert, the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 in C Sharp Minor by F. Liszt was outstandingly played with fingers and arms moving so fast it was almost a blur to those of us watching."


"Johann Sebastian Bach: Past, Present, Future"
Miami, Florida - "The Diapason", 06.2005
"Young Israeli-born Michael Tsalka (Philadelphia, PA) played three of Bach’s concerto transcriptions from original works of Telemann and Vivaldi in an engaging and brilliant early-morning harpsichord program."


"Excellent playing"
De Land, Florida
Southeastern Historical Keyboard Society Journal, 08.2005.
"Saturday morning presented new member Michael Tsalka in J.S. Bach’s keyboard transcriptions called baroque concertos. His excellent playing was a joy to long-term members as well as to some of his teachers who are also members of SEHKS and MHKS."


"A most talented young musician"
Salta, Argentina - "Tribuno", 26.11.2001
"Michael Tsalka’s performance at the "House of Culture" allowed us to meet a performer with remarkable characteristics. He offered a long, demanding program — opening with the Sonata K.V. 311 by Mozart and followed with Four Polish songs by Chopin (transcribed by Liszt). In the second half we heard ten pieces by Mendelssohn, a most impressive Scherzo written for Tsalka by the young Israeli composer Matan Daniel Porat and the glorious and difficult Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt. Tsalka, despite his young age, is a most mature interpreter. His playing is precise, elegant, with an aristocratic touch. His performance of trills, arpeggios and scales is worth all praise. His finger technique is amazing. Tsalka made a strong impression on the lovers and admirers of Classical Music in Salta."


"A fine and subtle recital"
Tucuman, Argentina - "El Siglo", Prof. Guzmán, 25.11.2001
"Last Monday we had the opportunity of listening to young Israeli pianist Michael Tsalka, who performed at the University of Tucuman. During the first half, he performed pieces by Mozart and Chopin. From the beginning of the Mozart sonata, Tsalka demonstrated control of a pearly, brilliant touch, ideal for the Salzburg composer, as well as a subtle phrasing full of nobility and expression in the second movement of the sonata. With the same clearness, precision and splendid technique, the pianist then performed four Polish songs. A lyrical singing on the piano, conceived as pure emotional expression is perhaps among the strongest characteristics of the young performer, which specializes in a composer that is seldom performed on the piano, unfortunately, Felix Mendelssohn. Most of the second half was dedicated to the German composer.
Tsalka’s dedication to produce a sound filled with subtleties and colors, in spite of the piano (that long ago should have been replaced), underlined even more his level as a performer. Following a short piece by an Israeli composer that showed the pianist’s flexibility in a modern language, the recital reached its peak with the brilliant Hungarian Rhapsody."


"A star duo"
Katrineholm, Sweden. - "Katrinehom Kurier", 13.07.2001
"Friday's concert has been the highlight of this year's festival. Following their concert in Tel-Aviv, the Ponten-Tsalka Piano Duo was called a duo of international stars: the completely packed hall confirmed that judgment. It was fascinating to watch how both pianists technically completed each other perfectly. Mendelssohn's Variations, so rich with ideas, were performed in a highly subtle way and yet in a romantic and dramatic manner."


"A great duo"
Julita, Sweden. - "Katrinehom Kurier", 09.07.2001
"In Bazzini's piece both the violinist and pianist gave a most remarkable performance. Especially impressive were two folklore pieces from Kazakhstan, both were delivered at a very fast tempo, full with soul and spirit, awakening in the audience great respect for that distant country and its culture."


"Outstanding and moving interpretations"
Festival Musicale delle Nazioni, Rome, Italy
Daniel della Setta, 27.06.2001
"Michael Tsalka's outstanding and moving interpretations of Mozart and Schubert will be long remembered by this distinguished audience."


"Congenial four-hands playing at the Musical Academy"
Stockholm, Sweden- "Katrinehoms-Kuriren", Holger Wiegertz, 23.11.2000
"Four-hands piano playing can occasionally sound "off-beat" when both performers are not completely integrated, but tonight at Nybrokajen 11 there was not even a trace of that. We have written earlier about this piano duo describing them as "musical twins". There is no need to change anything in this statement. It was a miracle of congeniality . . .Two great pianists that share similar ideas about music — one could say; two artists with one soul . . . They will surely be very much in demand at the international concert scene.
The program was based on the pieces they performed when winning the First Prize in the important international competition in Calabria, Italy this past spring. It was superbly chosen and interesting. It also included a world premiere written by the Israeli composer Matan Daniel Porat, born in 1982: Mozart’s Sonata in F-Major, K. 497 is a fascinating composition, complex and difficult to play. The duo performed the piece brilliantly and the public could feel the great musical power at the highest intensity. Andante con Variazioni by Mendelssohn was performed with extraordinary elegance, with great decisiveness even in the most virtuoso passages."


"Stars of music"
Festival Musicale delle Nazioni, Rome, Italy
Daniel della Setta, 25.07.2000
"The piano pieces performed were by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Chopin and Gershwin. The highly-gifted Israeli pianist, Tsalka — in the midst of an extensive tour in Europe — interpreted with mastery the Variations on "Salve tu, Domine" by Mozart, as well as three songs by Gershwin. His approach to different genres and styles, from "The man I love" to a Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt was inventive and original. The public, delighted with the performance of "Songs without Words" by Mendelssohn, responded with great warmth."


"Simplicity and elegance"
Julita, Sweden. - "Folket", C.J. Leijgard, 11.07.2000
"Mozart’s Sonata K. 311 was performed by Michael Tsalka in a way that made the public realize immediately that the piano technique in this recital would be at an absolute top level. Tsalka quickly took command of the evening at the full concert hall and did so with such simplicity and great elegance that the public was enchanted."


"Dress-rehearsal for a great tour"
Idar-Oberstein, Germany - "Nahe Zeitung ", Nikolaus Furch, 28.12.1998
"Michael Tsalka mesmerized his audience with an incisive line and rhythmic vitality. His clarity of detail, delicacy and passionate involvement were compelling."


"Unveiling hidden treasures"
Idar-Oberstein, Germany - "Rhein Main Presse", 26.12.1998
"Michael Tsalka appeared in the Church showing his great gift for fine dynamic shading and marvelous interpretative powers which emphasized the meditative and shining qualities of his chosen composers."