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Danish Piano Concertos Vol 4 / Oleg Marshev, Et Al


Release Date: 01/24/2006 
Label:  Danacord   Catalog #: 641   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Victor BendixRudolph Hermann Simonsen
Performer:  Oleg Marshev
Conductor:  Matthias Aeschbacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aalborg Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BENDIX Piano Concerto in g, op. 17 . SIMONSEN Piano Concerto in f ? Oleg Marshev (pn); Matthias Aeschbacher, cond; Aarhus SO ? DANACORD DACOCD 641 (69:07)


The full floodtide of Romanticism didn?t begin withdrawing from Denmark until Carl Nielsen?s influence made itself pervasively felt. Here we have piano concertos, one by Victor Bendix (1851?1926) from the generation that preceded Nielsen, Read more the other by Rudolph Simonsen (1889?1947) of the generation that followed him?but both are redolent of Brahms.


Bendix was an artist of catholic tastes. As a renowned conductor, he offered Wagner and Verdi in a Copenhagen that remained firmly attached to Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Gade. He was regarded as one of the finest pianists, equal to the international stars who visited Denmark, and might have made more of a mark as a composer if his private life had included fewer scandals. His love affair with the wife of a friend and employer, for example, ended with the woman in question committing suicide. On another occasion, a pupil of his, who wanted his child, agreed to the composer?s condition of absolute secrecy in the matter before proceeding. When she later reneged on this agreement and Bendix refused acknowledgment, she sought him out with a loaded pistol. Bendix knocked it out of her hand with a nearby stick. (The result of this union was the fine pianist Victor Schiøler, a student of Schnabel and Friedman, who recorded Brahms, Chopin, Nielsen, and Saint-Saëns so expertly back in the 1930s and 1950s.) While none of this became general knowledge, it?s likely Bendix?s reputation was an important reason the Royal Danish Orchestra never played any of his music, despite the longtime presence of one of his brothers as an oboist among its musicians.


Bendix?s Piano Concerto is an inspired work that at times recalls Saint-Saëns and Raff, but especially Brahms at his most lyrical and Schubertian. It is idiomatically written, and thematically memorable. The concerto possesses a wealth of incident as well as a passionate depth that does not preclude charm or whimsical fancy. My favorite section is the central movement, a lengthy but delicate Intermezzo that combines elements of the traditional adagio with a light-hearted scherzo?not unlike the scherzos from several of Litolff?s Concerto symphoniques . This work asserts itself upon first acquaintance, but grows only more interesting with familiarity.


Not as much can be claimed for the Piano Concerto of Rudolph Simonsen. He was a brilliant critic, teacher, and composer?one of the few established musicians of national stature to come to the stout and perceptive defense of Nielsen?s later works. However, his Concerto is an early (1915) and derivative piece, drawing inspiration from Brahms?s First Piano Concerto. It successfully duplicates the awkwardness and pretentiousness of Brahms?s first movement, right down to near duplication in some of its thematic and rhythmic motifs, while missing most of the romantic warmth of his second and the delightful mock-furious dash of his third. Simonsen would later write much fine music in a distinctive style (his symphonies on Danacord 370?371 are well worth hearing), but he sadly never returned to the piano concerto genre as a means of personal expression.


Oleg Marshev is a committed interpreter of both works, with a strong technique, unflagging attention to detail, and the expressive temperament for this music. The Aarhus musicians are equally convincing, though Aeschbacher favors substituting mass for momentum at climaxes. Finally, the engineering is clean and forward, with the piano well balanced against the orchestra.


In short, there are no revelations here, but the Bendix is a genuine pleasure. Piano buffs of the late 19th-century repertoire are accordingly apprised. There?s much to enjoy from this fourth release in Danacord?s ?Danish Piano Concerto? series, easily on a par with Hyperion?s equivalent series devoted to the ?Romantic Piano Concerto?; and with rather more fire and spirit than some of Hyperion?s soloists.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Piano in G minor, Op. 17 by Victor Bendix
Performer:  Oleg Marshev (Piano)
Conductor:  Matthias Aeschbacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aalborg Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884 
Length: 38 Minutes 6 Secs. 
2.
Concerto for Piano in F minor by Rudolph Hermann Simonsen
Performer:  Oleg Marshev (Piano)
Conductor:  Matthias Aeschbacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aalborg Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915 
Length: 30 Minutes 42 Secs. 

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