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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

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Niels Viggo BENTZON (1919-2000)
Piano Sonatas: Volume 2
Piano Sonatas: No. 2 Op. 42 (1946) [20:16]; No. 4 Op. 57 (1949) [27:35]; No. 7 Op. 121 (1959) [1959]
Christina Bjørkøe (piano)
rec. Carl Nielsen Academy of Music, Odense, 5-6 July 2004, 21-22 March 2005. DDD
DACAPO 8.226030 [60:09]

Niels Viggo Bentzon was phenomenally productive across his eighty one years. He wrote more than 650 works of which there are more than thirty symphonies and some thirty piano sonatas (see biography of Bentzon and review of all the piano music). Clearly this is going to be a long series!
 
The three movement Second Sonata is a grand affair with gestures that at one moment recall the most ambitiously magniloquent Rachmaninov and at others suggest an attempt at a modern Waldstein sonata. The Fourth is a six movement sonata with three Largos. Classical grandeur has been left behind. Instead the statements are suggestive and fragmented. The Largos are deployed 1, 3 and 6. The first two drip their statements steadily while the valedictory one has an Olympian serenity. The first allegro - there are two (2 and 5) - is edgy and angular with a hint or two of Shostakovich's shrapnel in the coruscations. The second allegro tumbles along in Beethovenian grandeur and the sort of writing that unnervingly recalls de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain. The andante con moto comes fourth in the sequence. It has the mien of a hesitant Pierrot landscape amble. The Seventh Sonata, across its four movements is that much more fractured. Great rearing up gestures, angularity, dissonant philosophical traversals, suggestions, Beethovenian trudgings and explosive asides: these all play their way through this brief four movement sonata. Fascinating stuff.
 
Henrik Friis provides the liner-notes which tend toward technicality. That said most of the essential information is provided apart from details of premieres.
 
The sound is in the best Dacapo tradition - muscular and clear.
 
It is perhaps typical of Dacapo's seriousness of purpose and abnegation of commercial values that nowhere do they mention the number and details of the first CD in this steadily developing Bentzon Edition. Anyone tempted to give us an intégrale of the symphonies and piano concertos?
 
Rob Barnett  

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