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Thomas D.A. TELLEFSEN (1823-1874)
Sonata for Piano and Violin op. 19 [26:10]
Sonata for Piano and Cello op. 21 [21:47]
Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello op. 31 [32:59]
Einar Steen-Nokleberg - piano
Atle Sponberg - violin
Oystein Birkeland - cello
Rec. Sofienberg Church, Oslo, 9-10 September and 8-10 November 2001
SIMAX CLASSICS PSC 1226 [81:00].

 

Thomas Tellefsen was born in Norway in 1823 and made his debut as a pianist in 1842 before moving to Paris where he met and studied with Chopin in 1844 until 1847. During this time he composed many works including two piano concertos, chamber music and pieces for solo piano.

The three chamber works recorded here were all written between 1855 and 1861 in Paris. Although influenced by Chopin in his piano writing there are hints of Schumann and even early Brahms in this music, but more especially of Mendelssohn.

The first movement of the sonata for piano and violin has great interplay between both soloist each stating and restating themes throughout the development section. The slow movement begins with a dark and almost sombre feel to it, although the piano brings more than a hint of sunlight to the mood. This is then developed by the violin with the piano opting for a more supportive and expressive role. The third movement scherzo is well structured with a simple trio. The finale is marked allegro vivace and sets off at a brisk pace with both musicians each making bold statements with some fine playing.

The sonata for piano and cello op. 21 was premiered in Paris in 1857 and was well received by the French music press. Again there are distinct echoes of Mendelssohn and even Schubert, remember the Viennese classics were very popular and influential at that time in Paris. The first movement follows the usual sonata form and shows the variety of colour and range of both instruments. The slow movement begins with a statement on the piano and immediately repeated by the cello, with a middle section that could be a Schubert song. The finale is melodic with friendly rivalry between soloists who show of their skills brilliantly.

The Trio for piano, violin and cello op. 31 which concludes the disc was composed in 1864 and given its first performance in Norway in the same year. Again one is reminded of the influence of Chopin and Mendelssohn with each soloist sharing the limelight. The work is in four movements with the short scherzo placed before the third movement adagio. All four movements are well crafted and the piano writing in the adagio is full of natural charm and beauty with the violin and cello in full support. In the final movement the piano states the main theme followed by the violin and cello with quite a lengthy development section.

Tellefsen, although relatively unknown compared to some of his contemporaries, deserves to be more widely heard and judging by the music on this disc he certainly had mastered the art of chamber music writing. Throughout, the playing is quite superb with a recording to match, well engineered by Geoff Miles. Warmly recommended .

Michael Wyatt



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