Gál The Piano Music
Composer, scholar, writer, teacher and performer, Hans Gál was the complete musician in the very best sense of the word. Born in 1890 in the village of Brunn an Gebirge just outside Vienna to parents of Hungarian-Jewish origin, his musical talent blossomed under the encouragement of his Aunt Jenny, who was an established opera singer in Weimar, and he began piano lessons at the age of eight. Although finding the routine of practice irksome, Gál became sufficiently proficient on the instrument to have been admitted at the age of fifteen to the class of Richard Robert, (1861-1924) one of the most outstanding piano pedagogues in Vienna and the teacher of Clara Haskil, Rudolf Serkin and George Szell.
The first disc ranges back and forth; both Sonatines, the Suite, Sonata, and Drei Skizzen. The Sonata is a four-movement work of immediacy and attractive melodic openness. Fresh-limbed the opening may be but it does rise to the occasional pitch and the accent is rather French, not least in the perky Scherzo (a minuet) where the rocking figures and accelerated drive impart a somewhat comedic element. This is an impression reinforced by the alert but certainly not overtly expressive variational slow movement. The Suite is a somewhat earlier work dating from Gál’s early thirties. He carves a haltingly witty Menuet and a warmly flowing Sarabande that ultimately gains in gravity and depth.
Nimbus’s recording certainly suits Jones’s mellow approach and he can be warmly commended for his rich tone and more horizontal response to the music.