The frustration of Milko Kelemen’s Sonata 1954


Milko Kelemen is a Croatian composer. I got to heard one of his works in The Forge, a small venue in Camden, London.

Stage at The Forge in Camden, London

The programmes of the Forge puches well above its weight. They invited Diana Brekalo to perform a piano concert on March 2nd 2011. Brekalo is a mesmerising and versatile pianist who treated an audience of 14 with Brahms’ Klavierstücke, Opp 117 & 119, Mozart’s Rondo No. 3 in A minor and some works by Liszt. I did enjoy Brahms and Mozart a lot.

The surprise of the evening was Milko Kelemen’s Sonata. Never mind punk, heavy metal and drum&bass if you need some tough action on your eardrums. Although the Sonata has been performed around 200 times so far at the major venues, I do not know of any recording. If you can read sheet music you might get a taste of how much rage and frustration can be distilled into a piano composition. Brekalo hit the keyboard with an energy that you can hardly imagine in the body of the elegant German pianist. Her hands moved so fast that you could hardly see them stomping salvagely across the range.

Kelemen, born in 1924, composed his Sonata in 1954. The three-movement work reflects Kelemen’s disappointment of the autarchic drift of the Yugoslavian regimen. The piece features Classic and ethnical elements although I could not identify most of them. I was most impressed by the stream of angry vibes. You could almost figure out the depths of the despise of a musician trained in Europe and most probably trapped by the threads of the aparatchik of the Yugoslavian elites back home.


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