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The Romantic Piano Concerto Vol 57 - Wiklund / Sturfalt, Manze, Helsingborg SO

Wiklund / Sturfalt / Helsingborg Sym Orch / Manze
Release Date: 06/12/2012 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67828  
Composer:  Adolf Wiklund
Performer:  Martin Sturfalt
Conductor:  Andrew Manze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

WIKLUND Piano Concerto No. 1. Concert Piece in C. Piano Concerto No. 2 Martin Sturfält (pn); Andrew Manze, cond; Helsingborg SO HYPERION CDA67828 (74:59)

Adolf Wiklund (1879–1950) was another instance of a major musical talent whose composing career was sidetracked by conducting—first at the Royal Swedish Opera, then at the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, and the Concert Society Orchestra. He continued to compose fitfully throughout his life, almost always to excellent effect. The Swedish public has Read more never forgotten his music, not even after the musical establishment decided to “go modern” in the 1960s and 1970s, so it’s a wonder more of it hasn’t put in an appearance on compact disc.

I privately speculated after the earliest releases in Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series (it’s now up to No. 57) about when they would get around to Wiklund. His Second Piano Concerto has been on my radar since 1979, when Caprice issued a recording with Greta Erikson performing it under the baton of Stig Westerberg. It is a big-hearted, beautiful work, drawing upon Brahms, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and Stenhammar for style and technique but still maintaining a distinctive profile. Its harmonic language remains fresh, and its themes are as memorable as any by that triumvirate of composers. Far more pallid music has been issued in the series than this, so I can’t begin to guess why it has been neglected until now.

It’s joined here by two earlier Wiklund works. The Second Piano Concerto appeared in 1917; the more Eusebius-like First, exactly a decade before. They share some characteristics: a preference for nonfunctional harmony and modal folk coloration that lead to unusual harmonic progressions, and a motto theme (or in the Second Concerto, harmonic pattern) that acts as a subtle binding unit. It is nearly as fine a piece as the Piano Concerto No. 2, with more Great Moments than you can shake a baton at.

Finally, there’s the Concert Piece in C Major, Wiklund’s first published work, completed in 1902. He played it at its debut, under Tor Aulin’s baton with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, where it met with public and critical acclaim. Schumann and especially Liszt are at the heart of it, with one of Wiklund’s typically original fantasy-like structures: Elements that will appear at various points in the piece are briefly disclosed in a lengthy, harmonically wayward recitative-like piano solo close to the start. There’s a Great Tune that almost gets tossed off as though it were a second thought, and the pacing lacks a tightness that the First Concerto, and particularly the Second, display in spades. But the Concert Piece is more than just a promise for the future, demonstrating both freshness and maturity.

Martin Sturfält is excellent here, with plenty of color and size to accompany his strong technique. Andrew Manze is better at the slow movements, too sedate elsewhere; performing the final rondo movement of the First Piano Concerto, allegro vivace , at a slow allegro allows for its more poetic interludes to shine, but loses the impetuous character of the movement. There’s also a stiffness about his work, a lack of flexibility that Sturfält doesn’t reflect. The Helsingborg musicians demonstrate attractive tone.

The chance of getting another version of either of the concertos anytime soon is very remote, however, and they are well worth your acquaintance. Strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 1 in E minor, Op. 10 by Adolf Wiklund
Performer:  Martin Sturfalt (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Manze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Konsertstycke in C major, Op. 1 by Adolf Wiklund
Performer:  Martin Sturfalt (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Manze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Concerto for Piano no 2 in B minor, Op. 17 by Adolf Wiklund
Performer:  Martin Sturfalt (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Manze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  5 Customer Reviews )
 Another Winner in the RPC Series! October 20, 2014 By H. Ventura (Mililani, HI) See All My Reviews "I have acquired most of the CD's in the on going Romantic Piano Concerto from Hyperion. Most are top notch. A few are curiosities. Still, I am able to glean something positive from each disc in this outstanding series. This latest issue, #57, is a standout. If you like Rachmaninoff and Steinhammer you'll get hooked on this offering. Wiklund's concertos are big, sinewy; he knew how to spin a melody, milking it for all its worth. Lush, romantic, rhapsodic. It's not hard to hear why Wiklund's works were regularly played and highly regarded at the turn of the last century. This disc is a tour-de-force. Virtuosic performances from Martin Sturfalt and the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra. Top notch sound. Amazing. In my top five of the series." Report Abuse
 Swedish Triumph! April 24, 2014 By bess holloway (Boulder, CO) See All My Reviews "The music making here is well celebrated by the three other reviewers. My point is that it brings to our audience a much needed exposure to Swedish composers generally. We are sadly deficient in live performances here in the USA, a curious fact given our history of large-scale immigration of Swedish people to America. I truly love this recording!" Report Abuse
 Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto Series Rolls On September 25, 2012 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "This disk is Volume 57 (that's right-57!) in Hyperion's amazing Romantic Piano Concerto series, presenting 3 works by Swedish composer Adolf Wiklund-Piano Concertos 1 and 2, plus Konsertstycke, his very first published work. These are all outstanding compositions, squarely in the late Romantic tradition. Piano Concerto # 1 and Konsertstycke are big, powerful works with lush orchestral support to the soloist in a way that somehow struck me as a fusion of Tchaikovsky and Schumann or Chopin, if it is possible to imagine such a thing. Piano Concerto # 2 is an even more impressive work, more expansive and with greater thematic development (as I saw it). Soloist Martin Sturfallt delivers a passionate and highly nuanced performance, and it is hard to imagine better orchestral backing than heard here from the excellent Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra. This recording is an eye-opening introduction to a very unfamiliar composer, and one that you will definitely enjoy. Strongly recommended!" Report Abuse
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