Notes and Editorial Reviews
Rondo on “Stusle Sundagskvelden.” Piano Sonatas: No. 1; No. 3. Variations in the form of a Fantasy. Romance. Fantasy. Rondoletto
Torleif Torgersen (fp)
SIMAX PSC 1305 (61:59)
Born in 1794 in Germany, Carl Arnold enjoyed an enormously successful career as a traveling virtuoso and composer, particularly in his adoptive country, Norway, where he lived until his death in 1873. Although early in his career his compositions were apparently well received by critics and audiences alike, Arnold’s works
eventually fell in disfavor when his Norwegian fan base began taking an interest in the newer romantic idiom of the likes of Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, and Richard Wagner. While things usually happen for a reason, I believe that history was not entirely just to Arnold—while not the most original or memorable, Arnold’s music is never less than delightful, inspired, and interesting, and, considering that fortepianist Torleif Torgersen’s recording presented for consideration here is a world premiere, I am simply amazed that Arnold has not been on anyone’s radar until now.
Stylistically, Arnold’s ebullient and efflorescent scores are rooted in the best tradition of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven and occupy the transitional period between the Classical era and Romanticism. There are operatic elements
Donizetti or Bellini and, in many ways, Arnold’s music reminds me of Carl Maria von Weber and Ferdinand Ries, whose keyboard sonatas were recently recorded by pianist Susan Kagan to great critical acclaim. So if you enjoy Weber and Ries, you will certainly want to check Arnold out, and I am virtually certain that you will not be disappointed.
Torgersen, a Norwegian pianist and fortepianist, plays Arnold’s music extremely well. This is
difficult music, which was undoubtedly written to keep audiences accustomed to the likes of Hummel, Moscheles, Ries, and perhaps even Liszt on their toes. Torgersen makes child’s play of Arnold’s numerous technical difficulties, and the result is technically impressive and musically compelling.
The quality of the recorded sound is exemplary, as are the thoughtful and informative liner notes, which were co-written by the artist himself. Torgensen’s fortepiano, a wonderful Viennese instrument manufactured by Gottlieb Hafner around 1830, deserves special acknowledgement. May we hear some Schubert on this instrument, please?
All in all, a fascinating and stimulating release, which I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in wrongly neglected composers.
FANFARE: Radu A. Lelutiu
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