> BENTZON Piano Concerto No 4: 8224110 [RB]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Niels Viggo BENTZON (1909-2000)
Piano Concerto No. 4 (1954) [39.28]
Five Mobiles (1960) [20.16]
Anker Blyme (piano)
Aarhus SO/Ole Schmidt
rec Kongreshuset Arhus, 1982
DACAPO 8.224110 [59.46]


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The Fourth Piano Concerto was premiered by the composer with Erik Tuxen directing the Danish National Radio SO. In this work the Beethoven of Coriolan and the Third Piano Concerto seems held in a suspension of Berg (lyrical persona) and Stravinsky (rhythmic persona - cf also the Fourth Mobile Op. 125). At the end of seventeen minute first movement we catch elusive shades of Vaughan Williams in his best 'bruising' mode. The adagio rhapsodises in an improvisatory manner with a slowly blooming sense of sardonic direction surely part shaped by Shostakovich. The bell-like descents of the second movement can also be discerned in the finale among its rhythmic abundance.

Compare the Five Mobiles which flitter around the same starry dissolution limned by the orchestral miniatures of Webern and Schoenberg. These pieces could easily have rested under the title of 'Farben'. The Second, has about it something of nihilism and the abyss. The Third is jewelled and barely holds onto the tatters of tonality launching off where Holst's Neptune, Ode to Death and Betelgeuse left off. I urge you to hear this magical piece. However I could hardly be less enthusiastic about the heart slowed chorale of the Fifth Mobile. These pieces were inspired by the suspended mobiles of the American artist, Alexander Calder.

Bentzon's productivity was phenomenal. By 1998 he was already at his Op. 635. There are fourteen string quartets (rivalling Holmboe - in numbers at the very least) and 25 piano sonatas. Operas, ballets, wind quintets and symphonies were also produced in some abundance. It is for this reason all the more surprising that, virtuoso pianist that he was, he did not produce a piano concerto until he was 39.

Rob Barnett


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