> Leif Ove Andsnes- A Portrait [JP]: Classical Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Leif Ove Andsnes- A Portrait
Edvard GRIEG (1843 - 1907)
Piano Concerto in A Minor ( ****)
Lyric Pieces: Op. 43, Nos. 1 and 6, Op.65, No. 6

Robert SCHUMANN (1810 - 1856)

Fantasie, Op. 17 (III: Langsam getragen)

Franz LISZT (1811 - 1886)

Mephisto Waltz No. 1.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833 - 1897)

Intermezzo Op. 117, No. 2.

Joseph HAYDN (1732 - 1809)

Piano Concerto in D Major, Hob.XVIII:11
Piano Sonata, HobXVI:32 (II and III)

Carl NIELSEN (1865 - 1931)

Humoreske-Bagateller, Op. 11.

Geirr TVEITT (1908 - 1981)

Fifty Folk Tunes from Hardanger, Op. 150, Nos. 3, 27 and 37.

David Monrad JOHANSEN (1888 - 1943)

Pictures from Nordland: Suite No. 1, Op. 5 (II, III, IV)


Tunes and Dances from "Siljustad", Op. 22, No. 5.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854 - 1928)

Sonata I.X. 1905 (Z Ulice)

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906 - 1975)

Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings, Op. 35.

Leif Ove Andsnes (piano), Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra - Dmitri Kitayenko, (Grieg)
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra - Leif Ove Andsnes (Haydn)
Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet) City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra - Paavo Järvi
Recorded: 6/1990, Grieghallen, Bergen - (Grieg Op. 16 and Op.65, No.6), 8and9/1995, St. George's Hall Brandon Hill, Bristol - (Schumann), 9/2000, No.1 Studio, Abbey Road (Liszt), 6/1998 Lommedalen Church, Oslo (Brahms and Haydn), 10/1992, The Maltings, Snape (Grieg, Op.43 Nos. 1 and 6), 3/1995, St. Georges, Brandon Hill, Bristol (Nielsen and Rachmaninov), 1/1997, No.1 Studio, Abbey Road (Tveitt, Johansen and Saeverud), 4 and 12/1990, The Maltings, Snape (Janáček), 10/1997, Symphony Hall, Birmingham (Shostakovich) and 9/1997, No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road (Haydn Sonata). [DDD]
EMI CZS574789-2 [2CDs 74.57 and 76.25] (special price)

Had Leif Ove Andsnes been born 20-30 years earlier, he would probably be a superstar today. He is unfortunate in coming to (or towards) his peak when the record companies are cutting back severely on their marketing budgets. Otherwise, I believe he would be fêted with the best and everyone would know about it.

This double album, at a special price, gives us a very good idea about his strengths, and rather than give us a large number of bits and pieces, EMI has very sensibly given us three complete concertos, plus extended excerpts from a number of pieces which are out of the ordinary for most general collectors. The recordings are from both the EMI and Virgin catalogues. He started his UK recordings with Virgin, before transferring to the parent label.

The pair of discs starts with the complete performance of Grieg's ever popular Piano Concerto, emanating from a Virgin release, still available as part of a Grieg anthology. He plays superbly, and the accompaniment by the Bergen Philharmonic is excellent. Not quite in the Kovacevich or Perahia class, but very, very close.

The Brahms, Liszt, Rachmaninov and Schumann pieces shows Andsnes as an artist more than capable of performing the mainstream classics of the piano without the least fear from the competition. These four works are each models of clarity and form, with extremely clear recording. The microphones are almost ideally positioned to catch the merest whisper of a pianissimo, and yet handle the loudest fortissimo without strain. This complements the playing excellently, and gives much pleasure.

Among the highlights of this album are the solo works by the Scandinavian composers. Nothing here to make you re-think the masterworks of the piano, but a collection of sixteen short pieces which are most enjoyable and pass away about half an hour of unalloyed pleasure.

The remaining works are again, real treats. The Janáček sonata ebbs and flows in a very attractive manner, allowing one to experience a very romantic side of Janáček's style. Now we move on to the remaining concerti. The Haydn D major concerto is from Andsnes' award winning disc of three concerti, and it certainly whets the appetite to hear the rest, with sparkling playing from both pianist and orchestra.

In the Shostakovich, Andsnes is joined by that other famous Scandinavian artist, Håkan Hardenderger for a spanking performance of Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto. Superb playing from both soloists, and accompanied most effectively by Paavo Järvi.

The only problem I experienced with this issue was that it made me want to hear the other works on the various discs from which these excerpts were taken. I suppose therefore that EMI has a winner on its hands, because this issue may cause further sales of the parent discs. An excellent issue.

John Phillips

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