Review: Fanfare Magazine

SONATAS FOR FORTEPIANO.  Monica Jakuc, fortepiano.  TITANIC Ti-214 [DDD]; 75:21. 

There are many exceptionally attractive aspects to this disc, starting with the sound of Jakuc’s fortepiano—a 1983 replica (made by Kenneth Bakeman) of a Viennese instrument built by Anton Walter ca. 1800.  The sound of this fortepiano is pleasantly woody and mellow, with no discernible mechanical noises, and enough dynamic range to provide some variety in color.

The music itself has the agreeable charm of the Rococo period—fundamentally sunny, with an emphasis on pretty melodies, delicate ornaments, and clearly constructed binary forms.  With the exception of the Haydn C#-Minor Sonata, major keys predominate and chromaticism is limited.  Both women composers on this disc were associated with Haydn: Martinez (1744-1812) had been his student, and Auenbrugger (1759-82) was the dedicatee, along with her sister Katherina, of six Haydn sonatas published by Artaria in 1780, two of which are heard here.  The Auenbrugger sonata shows a degree of invention and depth that leaves one wondering about the music this gifted composer might have produced had she lived beyond the age of twenty-three.

Monica Jakuc has had a varied career as a pianist and teacher (she has been on the faculty of Smith College since 1969).  Her playing is lovely; she has an elegant and unmannered style, rhythmic flair, and beautiful sound (exceptionally well recorded, I might add).  The two Martinez sonatas and one movement of the Auenbrugger were recorded several years ago by the harpsichordist Barbara Harbach, who played everything somewhat faster and, because of the nature of the harpsichord, in a more staccato and clipped fashion.  Jakuc’s more relaxed tempos are very convincing and allow for more subtlety in phrasing and variety of touch.  An additional plus to this fine production are the excellently written and informative program notes by Gregory Hayes.

                                                                                                             - Susan Kagan, Fanfare Magazine  Nov/Dec 1993