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A Dr Tribute To Erling Blondal Bengtsson

Barber / Bengtsson / Malko / Jensen
Release Date: 01/08/2013 
Label:  Danacord   Catalog #: 727   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Samuel BarberSiegfried SalomonNiels Viggo Bentzon
Performer:  Erling Blondal Bengtsson
Conductor:  Nicolai MalkoThomas Jensen
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BENTZON Cello Concerto No. 1 1. SALOMON Cello Concerto 2. BARBER Cello Concerto 2 Erling Blöndal Bengtsson (vc); 1 Nikolai Malko, cond; 2 Thomas Jensen, cond; Danish RSO DANACORD 727 (78:54)
In observance of his 80th birthday in 2012, the highly regarded Danish-born cellist Erling Blöndal Bengtsson has been honored with this Danacord release of three archival recordings from the Danish Radio, two of them world premieres.

The prodigiously productive and astonishingly versatile modernist Nils Viggo Bentzon (1919-2000) was one of the most fascinatingly idiosyncratic figures in 20th-century music. His vast output of symphonies (more than 20), concertos (more than half-a-dozen for piano alone), and chamber and piano music reached into several hundred opus numbers. Like Milhaud, Villa-Lobos, and Cowell, he was the kind of composer who almost literally secreted music every day of his adult life. Back in the mid 1950s, when he wrote this, the first of his three cello concertos, he was just getting started. Yet this 20-minute score already displays the kind of unpredictable and self-consciously mischievous eccentricities, allied with a cogent, assured, and almost casual technical masterfulness that would characterize most of his enormous oeuvre.

More of a raffishly knockabout suite than a traditional concerto, its four movements (Fantasia, Rondo, Aria, Alla Marcia ) constitute almost a demonstration-piece in the varied techniques of cello virtuosity and as such offer a full complement of sonic entertainment together with acoustic food for thought, which Bengtsson tosses off with a dismissive effortlessness approaching near-contempt, which is exactly what a character like Bentzon would have intended and appreciated. In short, this is an excellent introduction to—after Nielsen and Holmboe—the most important Danish composer of the 20th century, Norgaard notwithstanding.

Although noted in Denmark for his (mostly unsuccessful) operas, Siegfried Salomon (1885-1962) also composed three substantial concertos (his companion efforts for piano and violin are already available on Danacord). While this soaringly passionate Cello Concerto strongly declares its sympathies with the late-Romantic world of Tchaikovsky and Busoni, there are here and there telltale touches that indicate it was written in the 1920s. And it is full of good themes and hearty climaxes which sound almost Elgarian and which Bengtsson brings out to the hilt in an electric collaboration with the great Danish conductor Thomas Jensen.

The program opens with the only familiar work here, Samuel Barber’s commandingly gorgeous Cello Concerto of 1946. Of Barber’s three concertos, this writer has always experienced this one, written for and premiered by soloist Raya Garbousova and the BSO under Koussevitzky, as emotionally more compelling and more endowed with an epic dimension than its two rather more crowd-pleasing siblings. And does Bengtsson really tear into the rich fabric of this score, exposing and animating its dramatic underbelly! Although this listener is not familiar with the more recent recorded incarnations of this music, we can say with some conviction that this version rivals the legendary Zara Nelsova’s recording from the early days of vinyl. And one should also take note of the presence of the great Nikolai Malko on the podium.

Not only significant for the premiere recordings of the Bentzon and Salomon, this release with top-drawer archival sound makes for an eloquent and succulent sonic feast for all cello aficionados.

FANFARE: Paul A. Snook
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Cello, Op. 22 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Erling Blondal Bengtsson (Cello)
Conductor:  Nicolai Malko
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 
Date of Recording: 11/24/1955 
Venue:  Live  Concert Hall, Danish Radio, Copenhagen, 
Length: 28 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Cello Concerto in D minor, Op. 34 by Siegfried Salomon
Performer:  Erling Blondal Bengtsson (Cello)
Conductor:  Thomas Jensen
Period: Modern 
Written: 1922 
Date of Recording: 06/16/1959 
Venue:  Concert Hall, Danish Radio, Copenhagen, 
Length: 29 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 106 by Niels Viggo Bentzon
Performer:  Erling Blondal Bengtsson (Cello)
Conductor:  Thomas Jensen
Period: Modern 
Written: 1956 
Date of Recording: 08/19/1957 
Venue:  Live  Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen 
Length: 20 Minutes 4 Secs. 

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