Notes and Editorial Reviews
Judging from his small piano output, the Neoclassical style of Knudåge Riisager (1897-1974) offers enough attractions and challenges to sate inquisitive pianists and (hopefully) their audiences. The three-movement Piano Sonata that opens this disc is Riisager's most ambitious and substantial keyboard work, and it merits rediscovery. Although the booklet notes allude to the possible influence of Bartók's piano sonata, the latter's earlier, more freewheeling keyboard idiom comes to mind vis-à-vis the finale's whirling unison octave passages. I also hear a thicker, larger-scaled working out of the harmonic and textural ideas in Debussy's Etudes.
Likewise, the relatively modest demands of the 1950 Sonatina
feature scampering scales from all directions jabbed by ornery dissonances in the virtually interchangeable outer movements. The spacious, modally tinged Op. 37 Waltz is a lovely little gem that you want to last longer than two minutes, while the Quatre Épigrammes from 1921 are stark, introspective, harmonically ambiguous mood paintings. Pianist Christina Bjørkøe's characterful keyboard mastery vivifies Riisager's piano works with dynamic surprises, sharp accents, strong rhythmic backbone, and keenly voiced polyphony. A release well worth hearing.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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