Composing, for Niels Viggo Bentzon, is like breathing - and, in
principle, just as essential. He is unable to live without it. That's the
way it's been for the most part ever since the composer debut 60 years ago,
and that's the way it is still. Even though he prefers to compose on the
piano, he is capable of composing everywhere he turns. And he is capable
of using anything at all as music paper, if need be. When he, in connection
with the birth of his youngest son Nikolaj in 1964, composed the whole of
his The Tempered Piano op. 157 during the course of 14 hectic days, he used
everything he came across for writing down the many ideas which rained down
upon him: music paper, shopping paper, matchboxes and the like. In all this
- the legendary productivity, the necessity of creating all the time, the
independence from especially external frameworks and circumstances - unmistakably
he resembles Duke Ellington whom he has venerated greatly most of his life.
Within Danish music he is in a class by himself. By virtue of his originality
and his mastery, by virtue of the voluminous chronicle of works and - the
interwoven norm-disrupting, at times almost surrealistic, sideline activities.
A red thread does indeed run through the bulk of the sixty years of compositional
expressions, but surprising departures and stylistic intermezzi form part
of the physiognomy as well. A fact which at times has helped to confuse the
outside world and scratch his reputation. Nevertheless, the fact is
that it all belongs together, large as well as small, significant and less
significant, that which is suitable for the concert hall, and that which
is more suitable for the Zoo. The traditional middle-class musical life's
conception of purified masterpieces like pearls on a string doesn't fit into
the picture of the creative Bentzon at all. Rather (as he himself has pointed
out), it would be proper to speak of a sequence of production where less
substantial works are the prerequisite for the masterpieces to a high degree.
Or as he expressed it following the first performance of his 5th symphony:
"I set the stage for the major works through the medium of the minor ones.
The minor ones are a kind of buffer. It's similar to the way it is with an
accumulator. It recharges bit by bit." And even though perhaps he wouldn't
formulate it thus today, the relationship is still the same - with the
continuously flowing crystallization of outstanding works. There are certainly
not a few more recent Danish classics that bear Bentzon's name.
He was born, so to speak, into the music on August 24, 1919. On the mother's
side he thus belongs to one of the most eminent Danish musical families
throughout more than two hundred years, in as much as his mother, pianist
Karen Bentzon, was the grandchild of J.P.E. Hartmann who in his turn descended
from the German immigrant Joh. Ernst Hartmann. And on the father's side the
music manifested itself especially through Niels Viggo's older cousins, the
composer Jørgen Bentzon and the flautist Johan Bentzon. Instruction
provided by his mother, as well as briefly during his boyhood years by jazz
pianist Leo Mathisen, preceded the professional education in piano, music
theory and organ that took place at The Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen
during the years 1938-42, and in addition to final examinations in the major
subjects mentioned it was consummated with an official piano debut in 1943.
Subsequently, 1950-88, Bentzon himself presided as a teacher at the academy
in Copenhagen, from 1960 as a lecturer.
The compositional process began quite suddenly in the summer of 1939. With
no background in compositional instruction of any kind, he composed Piano
Fantasia op. 1 A that he later in the year performed for the first time himself
at a DUT-concert that provided him with a remarkable review in the Danish
Music Magazine (Dansk Musiktidsskrift) by Vagn Holmboe: "a more than
conventionally promising debut, - a young composer who skips an entire series
of trial stages; and here one doesn't even have the feeling that it's necessary
to point out the danger of doing this."
The concatenation between composer and executant was, right from the start,
one of the distinctive characteristics of his musical efforts, although with
the added dimension that he was and is a brilliant impro-visor. This
can be sensed clearly in an early major work such as the Toccata for piano
op. 10 (1941), which precisely joins the improvisation's fantasizing, somewhat
rampant character with an astonishingly sure and economic implementation
of material, form and tonality. Especially the opening part is, with all
its expressivity and expansive breadth, a model example of an utterly economic
use of a few basic-motifs and -intervals which control the sequence on several
levels, including the tonality. When authoritative and imaginative use of
the piano is added to that, it is no wonder that the critics now spoke of
"a composer from whom one can expect the unusual."
Other characteristic piano works from the early years are Passacaglia op.
31 (1944) and Partita op. 38 (1945) where Bentzon draws on the forms of the
Baroque after the fashion of for example Hindemith who is, incidentally,
together with Carl Nielsen and Brahms, one of his chief inspirations during
those years. With the Partita, Bentzon achieved his international breakthrough
during the World Music Days (ISCM) in Copenhagen in 1947, and was acclaimed
as one of Scandinavian music's true greats - both as composer and pianist.
Particular attention was paid to the music's spontaneity and wide scale
of expression, ranging from practical mechanics beyond lyrical intensity
to impetuously inflamed expressivity and tremendous discharges of sound that
at the same time, however, went hand in hand with structural concentration.
While the linear aspect is quite prominent in the Toccata, in the Passacaglia
and in the Partita it is diminished in favour of the harmonic elements of
sound which form the basis of a monumental, almost orchestral, piano style
based on characteristic technical instrumental details such as the frequent
use of broken sonorous figures in two parts, consecutive third and sixth
successions, octave passages, and various characte-ristic chords. There is
the true sense of a practising musician behind this music, and on several
occasions even Bentzon himself has also characterized his compositional efforts
as a kind of frozen improvisation.
Moreover, his work as a performer has been going on throughout all the years
and during the first decades included several concert trips abroad
culminating in 1957 in the form of a four-month tour to the USA. The core
repertoire has naturally consisted of his own works, but especially during
the 1940's and the 1950's he also played other modern composers, among
these especially music by Schönberg and Hindemith. In this connection
the pianist Bentzon's continuous need for newly composed piano music has
undoubtedly contributed to the fact that a good fourth of his now more than
650 works are for solo piano. In addition to countless individual works such
as those already mentioned, two major series of works dominate: 25 numbered
sonatas (as well as a few which are unnumbered), and 13 hour-long collections
entitled The Tempered Piano that each consist of 24 preludes and 24 fugues.
The sonatas cover a time span of about 50 years, and the work series contains
many that almost have the status of classics within Danish piano music, a.o.
no. 3 op. 44 (1946) and no. 5 op. 77 (1951), as well as a later work such
as 'Hoffmann' sonata op. 248. In the sonatas one senses directly his close
relationship to the European tradition: "The classic forms, including
the symphony, have been present within my body since all the way back in
my childhood...this sonata-dualism...is the mainstay for the whole of the
European way of thinking in all aspects." Together with Bentzon
being deeply rooted in tonality and neoclassicism, this form outlook
constitutes one of the pillars of the always deeply personal and easily
recognizable tone language that during the 1940s and into the 1950's was
marked by considerable expressivity with large dynamic fluctuations and
at times a quite compact harmony, but which has since that time been considerably
simplified in the way that the texture during the recent decades has often
been very transparent.
Despite this basic stylistic foundation, there have still been periods with
unmistakable deviations in the attitude towards form and style: For example,
during the years 1948-55, where Bentzon was very preoccupied with metamorphosis
as a principle, even though the border to more traditional variation techniques
was often very fluid (and there was still room for strongly marked variation
works) - and especially during the years 1959-62. Here, he deliberately aimed
at a 'modernization' of his tone language through the increased use of chromatics
and a tendency towards dodecaphony under the inspiration of a.o. the Viennese
School (especially Alban Berg); a modernity that at intervals has also later
left its distinct marks on Bentzon's music. The connection with the fluxus
movement from the middle of the 1960's also should be mentioned here. It
is probably the finest example of Bentzon's propensity for breaking the norm,
and has not only shown itself in a series of fluxus-characterized works and
happenings based on a.o. graphic notation, but in various ways has also been
communicated to other parts of his work, his attitude, certain work titles,
etc. At the same time, it is important to note the following statement: "It
is a contrast to my music...because if there's one thing I'm not, then it's
norm-disrupting within the music. On the contrary, the norms interest me
On the whole, the list of works embraces all genres, although the main stress
lies on the instrumental music unequivocally. And even though it is undeniable
that the piano music takes up a great deal of room, it is worth emphasizing
the significance of the works for orchestra as well as the chamber music.
Thus, Bentzon, with as many as 24 symphonies (of which several are very weighty),
must be regarded as one of Denmark's great symphonists. The breakthrough
in that respect came in 1947 with the 3rd symphony which is a grandiose,
predominantly traditionally conceived work that is a clear continuation of
the Carl Nielsen tradition. The majority of the rest of the symphonies also
build on the tradition, even though various pronounced variants and deviations
occur. Even the important 4th symphony op. 55 ("The Metamorphosis", 1948)
distances itself in various ways from the traditionalism of the predecessor,
both concerning the orchestration and through the use of the metamorphosis
technique that the 5th symphony op. 61 (1950) and 7th symphony op. 83 (1951-52)
as well as other works from those years also are strongly characterized by.
But where the 4th symphony has three movements with the 1st movement, according
to the traditional practice, as the most weighty, the 5th symphony has five
movements and is arranged as an enormous intensification, culmination and
relaxation. The central movement, an extensive, beautiful and very concentrated
adagio movement of great emotional weight, constitutes the work's focal point
and culmination, while the surrounding movements are interdependently related
as a pair (1st and 5th, 2nd and 4th movements, respectively). This 'break'
with common practice can very well put one in mind of Bartokian forming ideals,
and in addition is well in keeping with Bentzon's handling of the sonata
form in many works during precisely these years where frequent use of inverted
reprise points in the same direction. Besides this, much later a work such
as the one-movement 16th symphony op. 509 (1987) displays related form
While the first 13 symphonies are distributed more or less equally up until
1965, and where the majority of them (symphonies 1-9) are of considerable
weight with a duration of 30-45 minutes, it is necessary to go all the way
to 1980 before Bentzon again completes a work within the genre. The duration
is now generally reduced just as the orchestration is characterized by greater
ease through the use of fewer mixed timbres. This characteristic is found
as early as a work such as 5 Mobiles op.125 for orchestra (1960) which is
one of the many other works for the large symphonic ensemble that falls outside
of the symphony as genre and together with the now classic Symphonic variations
op. 92 (1953) and Chronicle on René Descartes op. 357 (1975-76) figure
centrally on the list of works. Furthermore, Bentzon's numerous instrumental
concerts belong to this category the majority of which are large-scale concerts
such as, for example, the 4th piano concerto op. 96 (1954), the very atmosphere
charged (and Berg-influenced) 2nd violin concerto op. 136 (1961), and the
clarinet concerto op. 269 (1970-71), although other types such as the very
outstanding Chamber concerto for 11 instruments op. 52 (1948) are
The chamber music is a whole chapter in itself with 14 string quartets, 5
wind quintets, many works for other ensemble combinations, and especially
numerous sonatas for solo instrument and piano. The last-mentioned category
again reflects Bentzon as the performer who, in connection with the
first performances, has often attended to the piano part. Moreover, one finds
here examples of some of the most inspired works he has written, a.o. Sonata
for clarinet and piano op. 63 (1950), just as varying musician alliances
can be read now and then, for example sonatas for saxophone and piano from
the middle of the 1980's. Among the ensemble works, one finds older pieces
such as Mosaique Musicale op. 54 (1950) and Sonata for 12 instruments op.
257 (1970) as well as more recent pieces such as for example Choro Daniensis
op. 548 (1990) and Tsetse-fly op. 608 (1995) that bears witness to a
life in continuous contact with young ensembles.
Bentzon's initial wrestling with scenic expression was through the ballet
with music for the ballets Metaphor op. 58 (1949), The Courtesan op. 89 (1953)
and The Door op. 141 (1962) that were all produced at The Royal Theatre.
Only after this did he try his hand at music drama in the form of the ambitious
full-length opera Faust III op. 144 (1962) whose libretto he himself took
part in working out on the basis of Goethe, Joyce and Kafka. "Faust is
within us all, and our chance is that we are en route. Life's termination
with death as the absolute period is unacceptable" was Bentzon's offer
for an ultra-short summary of the content at that time. The
classical-romantic opera tradition constitutes the take-off for the form
itself. On the other hand, the musical material draws on many different stylistic
areas and genres - from jazz to pointillist music. The opera, which
must be seen as an early example of stylistic pluralism within Danish music,
was produced at the opera house in Kiel that later also billed the chamber
opera The Automaton op. 328 (1974).
The most outstanding work throughout the recent decades is undoubtedly the
13-volume The Tempered Piano that combined came into existence during the
course of approximately 30 years. It all began in February 1964 when Bentzon
composed his 'Bach-compendium 1', The Tempered Piano op. 157, a total of
24 preludes and 24 fugues. And even though one certainly finds, in conformity
with the work's title, some references to J. S. Bach's Das Wohltemperierte
Klavier (notice, though, the small important omission of 'well' with Bentzon),
the sources for op. 157 are both widely ramified and numerous borrowing from
a.o. Stravinsky and Monk and touches of Chopin as well as Schumann, but without
the distinctive bentzonian characteristics paling at any given point. There
is, in fact, an astonishing overall quality to this now almost classic work,
and it can today cause wonder that in its time op. 157 could give rise to
reviewer phrases such as: "Is this a completely special kind of third
stream? Is this a refined piece of pop-art? Or the most formidable fluxus-number
seen thus far?" A good ten years later Bentzon picked up the thread again
and created his The Tempered Piano II (op. 379, 1975-76), and since that
time new collections were added at even intervals up until 1996. Despite
the designations prelude and fugue, it is not necessarily to be expected
that a polyphonic movement is hidden behind the last-mentioned, and it is
a question of whether such a distinction concerning movement type makes sense
at all in connection with the later collections - without this having anything
to do with the musical quality, of course. Like one gigantic period, the
composer recorded during the course of the 1990's all 13 volumes (in other
words, a total of 624 movements!) that were published in 1998 as a box-set
consisting of 15 CD's.
Apart from his stupendous activities as composer, performer, instructor and
so on, Bentzon has been an industrious music author ever since the start
of the 1940's with a.o. a permanent affiliation with The Danish Music Magazine
(during 1943-45), and as the author of the following books: Dodecaphonic
Technique (text book, 1953), 6 Monologues (music essays, 1954), Beethoven
(1970), and Paul Hindemith (1997). To this must be added, since the 1960's,
a stream of written debate contributions dealing with all kinds of subjects
in the daily press, as well as some production of fiction and poetry, a.o.
the poetry collection entitled Poets in Wagonette (1969), and the short story
collection entitled The Dry World (1987). He has even presented himself at
intervals as a painter in connection with various exhibitions, and it is
hardly an exaggeration to say that Bentzon, from around 1960 and a couple
of decades further on, was more famous than any other serious Danish composer
- in the sense of being an all-embracing cultural phenomenon. The intensely
media-borne and almost sensation-characterized impression made upon the public
during this period has gradually given way in favour of an increasingly clearer
picture of one of Danish music's true giants and, furthermore, the last existing
member of the post-war era's great triumvirate within Danish music: Holmboe,
Koppel and Bentzon. But, first and last, he stands alone - 'beyond category'
as Ellington used to classify this type of exceptional personality.'
Bertel Krarup 1999
CD REVIEW by Rob Barnett
NIELS-VIGGO BENTZON (b.1919)
Det Tempererede Klaver - The Tempered Piano (1964-1996) in
13 volumes on 15 CDs
played by the composer
ClassicO CLASSCD 210-225
An enterprise of this scope is, in terms of volume and intellectual reach,
one against which the odds are stacked in this sound-byte orientated and
The magnitude of this cycle in terms of time, technique and intellect would
have made it just the sort of project that would have been tackled with abandon
and relish by John Ogdon.
The grocer-level dimensions will give us an initial impression. The 15 CD
set gives us 624 individual pieces: 312 pairs of preludes and fugues spanning
not far short of 1000 minutes of music - 17 hours or so of listening.
Some of the pieces are as short as 23 seconds; others as long as almost 5
minutes. Thus the pieces of mosaic making up this vast sequence do not
individually demand a long attention span. On average each is just short
of two minutes long. Taking two extreme examples: in vol 5 No 24 the fugue
in f sostenuto is 4.46 long; while Vol 7's no 34 fugue in GIS is of
only 23 seconds duration.
The great tapestry of these 13 volumes represents a library of ideas and
inspirations presented in finished form - each a fully rounded entity.
Bentzon's imagination is fulsomely stocked and endlessly replenished. His
multitudinous productivity is comparable with Villa-Lobos and Martinu with
more than 650 opus numbered works. There are at least 24 symphonies (details
of the latest symphonies are appended), seven piano concertos, four violin
concertos, three cello concertos and so on.
His creativity has taken him into areas some will find suspect including
jazz (not that unusual - think of the late Friedrich Gulda) and 'pop happenings'
(think of Malcolm Arnold's collaborations with Deep Purple and of Stockhausen
and Tangerine Dream). Improvisation has and continues to play a part in Bentzon's
musical ferment. Bentzon is something of a media guru on music, and quite
apart from being an extraordinary pianist has published novels and collections
of poetry. As if this were not sufficient he has also contributed to the
I confess that the present review is based on a random sampling of about
10% of the playing time of this colossal set. In this sense the review must
be regarded as an interim effort. Perhaps in the future I can return to this
pleasurable task and round it out. Equally I would be pleased to hear and
read the reaction of others to this music.
Contemplating this great arched bridge of pieces is rather like considering
the aeon-spanning science fiction novels of Olaf Stapledon or Balzac's
Conditione Humaine. It is awesome and forbidding as a concept. To
get any sort of 'handle' on the whole cycle would take at least a decade.
Why bother with this music? After all there is so much music in the world
and every month yet more music tumbles out towards the listener in profuse
My reason for listening is simple. I came to know just a handful of these
pieces through a good friend during the early 1980s of the time. Morten Gudmund
Hansen also introduced me to Danish Radio broadcast tapes of piano concerto
4 and two of the preludes and fugues were there as fillers after the concerto.
I was captivated.
Bentzon's inventiveness is phenomenal. Of my sampling across these discs
I found not a single time-serving piece of routine note-spinning. This, in
itself, is reason enough to explore. The cost though may seem beyond your
pocket even at ClassicO's special price so it may be a case of requesting
the set from your local library.
The music is not difficult; equally it is not bland. It is sometimes statuesque
but is more often concerned with movement. It is not academic or desiccated.
The stylistic reference points would include: Alan Bush's 24 preludes, the
piano music of Ronald Stevenson, the Essays in the Modes by John Foulds and
the later piano music of Frank Bridge. It tends to avoid the sensual or
impressionistic - focusing on pattern and spiced rocky harmony. Some may
have thoughts about Sorabji but this music is nothing like Sorabji's. Where
Sorabji leans towards luscious and full-lipped sensuality Bentzon's music
is leaner; more direct and the lines are presented with candid clarity which
leaves no room for hiding negation behind cloudy effect.
Unusually I have appended my brief notes on some of the pieces I have sampled.
Readers are asked to forgive the fanciful and enigmatic comments. They meant
something to me when I was listening to the music. I hope that they will
give some impression of the sound of these unprecedented pieces.
We are privileged to have the composer's own interpretations to echo down
the ages. Bentzon is one of the great individualistic voices of the twentieth
(and now 21st) century. His music needs to be promoted, treasured,
heard and heard time and again. © Rob Barnett
1 Nocturnal planetary desolation offset by comforting Handelian serenity
7 Typically Shostakovichian idea slowed to point of decorated collapse.
12 brusque fuguing
20 rapid running themes in both hands - a real virtuoso dash - resolved in
a simple splendour.
21 Almost cartoon-like speed - dashing and dark.
31 Slow ruffling of stony plumage.
39 Faintly dissonant pattern - not exciting musically though gathers self
40 adrenalin rushing nervy scherzo clanging and alive with ambiguous tonality
47 Moroccan decorative - ferns and ivy hang from Moorish arches (linked perhaps
with his Moorish Symphony No. 12 from 1964).
48 Wondrously soft tones conjured in reflection from piano.
3 sly melody roughened unfocussed edges - shostakovichian treatment overlapping
tumbling over self
10 Urbane fragment given the shostakovich treatment
15 wraith's music box.
23 Beethovenian darkness of Eroica. Sense of doom is tangible. Very powerful
29 Brighter emotions - springy elan and resilience.
45 Sea chanty - interleaved with trotting rhythmic material resolved into
one crystal high note and hooded bass chord
2 ideas set running and scampering throwing flinty sparks off the ironed
5 contented - impressionistic deep study - extremely impressive - a little
like Griffes' Peacock.
13 saunter through a vaguely threatening realm
14 - chirpy fragment - spinning out of control
21 - bell-dissonant clangour - piano pummelling
27 gloomy - sullen
34 snappy rhythmic idea slowly extended into higher reaches of keyboard
41 Bell-tormented skies
47 Arpeggio lightning-strikes upwards and downwards across the keyboard -
pausing for breath - then resume.
1 jubilation but with a spectre in the crowd
2 brilliants - vaudeville sparks.
12 study in jumpily sweet dissonance - again the Beethoven 5 fragment
20 rubicund health of the fast music.
35 soft uncloying welcome to a beloved friend - nostalgic
41 silent film mood music - the quicker emotions - piano taking and taken
46 rippling-patterned - pulse fast and accelerating. Bach on speed.
1 blasty oppressive
6 fairy trumpetry - ringing clear
13 on disc 5 debussian rocks drop almost bluesy
17 (only 20 seconds) Medtnerian temperament of the Skazki but with no clouding
22 Brittenesque gambol
26 Bell-like rush not far removed from Grainger's experimentation and Nancarrow's
33 Shostakovich what shall we do with drunken sailor but meanders and slips
38 Bachian fugue but flighty
42 strong fugal pattterns
48 black lava landscape ruckling
1. Discordant rush
7 Wandering through dream world of broken mirrors
10 snappy rhythmic piece
16 storm brews in rushing clouds passing in phantasmal procession across
26 nervy machine gun punchy rhythm derived from Beeethoven Five opening.
Bartokian flourish at end
34 Bachian patterns but with Shostakovichian pepper
42 Snowy fugue - could easily have been dubbed La Neige - it drifts
48 awkward angular fugue overhung and tense. You can hear pages being turned.
VOL 7 55.52
1 Fouldsian clamour from essays in the modes
2 Call to faerie arms across verdant woodlands
13 impatient scherzando - stamping cross-rhythms
17 Knocking rhythm linkage to Beethoven 5 but mixed with a delightful Chopin-like
falling melodic fragment.
31 Militaristic march - stern (linked perhaps with his Symphony No. 13 Military)
41 Medtner - clangorous
48 Steady pulse of a comforting night.
1 Pebble dropped into pool - Rachmaninovian accent twisted in tonality.
3 Slow pulsed - twisting and turning.
11 Slow again - a Persian nocturne
23 Laborious ascending theme - touched with victory and Medtnerian coronets
- leonine theme from Medtner third piano concerto finale.
35 The flicker of snake's tongue - gusts of wind disturb the surface of a
43 Abrupt marcato pattern - deep and rich
48 Fear no more the heat of the sun as set by Gerald Finzi. I wonder if Bentzon
has ever heard Finzi's Grand Fantasia and Fugue for piano and orchestra.
4 Bachian slow warm idea - almost contented. pearly walking pace.
6 Rueful - in constant brisk motion - playground tune
12 sombre - sense of being lost and adrift
16 Bachian pristine notes in simplicity and warmth.
26 pebbly raindrops irregular free fall
33 Bach stumbling idea cheeky
35 Rather lovely dreamy theme put through limpid treatment.
1 comic music hall theme - pathos falls into pathetic
4 Distant planet - landfall in one of the lunar seas
13 Dissonant explosive - dislocated
22 Warble like Rhapsody In Blue and Summer Frank Bridge
29 Rhapsody on a Police siren's ululation.
33 Macdowell like quick music given a salty edge
34 Perky Sondheim musical touch of Poulenc
1 elderly gait - winter of life - almost a stumble
5 slow meandering - patterned
9 Notes falling like slow motion film of one liquid dropped into another
liquid - plumes and ripples from the impact
10 Granitic bells - cheeky little carillon theme
15 slow again and with hint of the children's hymn 'All things bright and
25 Expectant but not hopeful theme satisfyingly fugued.
1 A flare fired and falling in time lapse as if suspended then remembering
gravity falling a little then floating etcetera
8 Bachian raindrops
14 Depression reflected in cloudy pearl notes.
15 Beethoven 5 rhythm twisted and given a seraphically victorious accent
29 Cantering spavine horse ride.
35 Purple depths and giant fronds of kelp and wrack
39 Spanish skirl - all prelude - expectant again but little hope
2 slow Sheep May Safely Graze melody given a wintry Gothic coating
8 Britten - alert and in readiness (28 seconds)
13 Gracious melody slowly and resourcefully spun
17 slow drip of nectar
30 Debussian bell notes
33 Simple Handelian theme tips over into a Macdowell like woodland spirit
4 One of Steve Race's hidden melodies a sentimental song somewhere in there.
13 Urgent but quiet. Prokofiev's Sarcasms with touch of Rachmaninov
23 Reminded me of Lionel Sainsbury's Preludes.
24 A hesitant falling - unconfident - repeated to self as if to reassure.
3 tetchy torrent - allegro barbaro Bartók
6 Frank Bridge - late 1930s
13 tremolando study
21 bluesy stamping powerful emotionally with right hand in constant quick
motion while the left hand steps the notes steadily
29 gnomic quiet character study in dark granite
37 Bachian clockwork winding down - the spring loses its latent energy
45 abrasive declamatory contrasts with music evocative of Holst's Betelgeuse
song (Humbert Wolfe)
48 cold worlds of Finzi's song Channel Firing.
BENTZON's LATEST SYMPHONIES
Niels Viggo Bentzon: Symfoni nr. 19 (1989)
Uropført: 11/3-1990, Sankt Annæ Salen, Kbh.
Sjællands Symfoniorkester, dir. Kaare Hansen, solist: Per Salo
Edition Wilhelm Hansen
Niels Viggo Bentzon: Symfoni nr. 20 (1988)
Uropført: 30/11-1990, Det Fynske Musikkonservatorium
DFM's Orkester, dir. Aksel Wellejus
Niels Viggo Bentzon: Symfoni nr. 21 (1988-1989) (Niels Ebbesen)
Uropført: 13/10-1990, Værket, Randers
Randers Byorkester, dir. Milan Vitek
Niels Viggo Bentzon: Symfoni nr. 22
Uropført: 3/11-1991, Esbjerg
Vestjysk Symfoniorkester, dir. Thomas Dausgaard
There are also symphonies 23 and 24 the latter dating from 1995/96.
You may also be interested in Bentzon's piano improvisations on the AV-ART
AACD 1004 NIELS VIGGO BENTZON:
SOLO PIANO IMPROVISATIONS
Niels Viggo Bentzon is the most prolific composer in Danish history. Since
his debut 55 years ago he has composed more than 600 works for orchestra
and all sorts of ensembles. Being also a renowned concert pianist Bentzon
naturally has composed extensively for his own instrument and - and this
is what fascinates us at AV-ART - has always used improvisation both as a
tool when composing as well as a means of expression when giving concerts.
This CD is the first to present Bentzon as an improviser. It has been produced
in cooperation with the Danish National Radio.
DK-1114 Copenhagen K
Tel/fax +45 3393 6093
FAUST 3 op 144 (1963) opera in 3 acts 1 20'
S, Mz, 2 T, BB, 3B, mixed chorus and orchestra
Danish libretto by the composer and Kjeld Kromann
THE AUTOMATON op 328 [Automaten] (1974) 55'
2 sop, alto, ten, bar, bass + fl, a-sax, bn, vn, va, vc, tape
libretto by Michael Leinert (in German)
METHAPHOR op 58 (1949) ballet in 11 pictures and an epilogue 30'
THE COURTESAN, [Kurtisanen] op 89 (1953) 60'
THE DOOR op 141 (1962) 60'
SYMPHONY no 2 op 36 (1945) 35'
SYMPHONY no 3 op 46 (1947) 37'
*SYMPHONY no 4 op 55 (1948) 33'
SYMPHONY no 5 op 61 (1950) 33'
SYMPHONY no 7 op 83 (1951-52) 27'
SYMPHONY no 8 op 113 (1957) 43'
SYMPHONY no 9 op 126 (1960) 33'
SYMPHONY no 13 op 181 (1965) 20'
SYMPHONY no 16 op 509 (1987) 22'
SYMPHONY no 24 op 597 (1994-95) 24'
other orchestral works
VARIAZIONI BREVE op 75 (1951) 15'
SYMPHONIC VARIATIONS op 92 (1953) 18'
PEZZI SINFONICI op 109 (1961) 17'
CONCERTO PER ARCHI op 114 (1957) 16'
MUTATIONS op 123 (1959-60) 10'
*5 MOBILES op 125 (1960) 18'
SINFONIA DA CAMERA op 139 (1962) 20'
CHRONICLE ON RENE DESCARTES op 357 (1975-76) 27'
22.214.171.124:126.96.36.199/2 timp/3 perc/hp/pno/strings
works for solo instrument(s) and orchestra
PIANO CONCERTO no 3 op 87 (1952) 35'
pno solo + 188.8.131.52:184.108.40.206/timp/3 perc/strings
PIANO CONCERTO no 4 op 96 (1954) 36'
pno solo + 220.127.116.11:18.104.22.168/timp/2 perc/strings
PIANO CONCERTO no 5 op 149 (1963) 25'
pno solo + 22.214.171.124:126.96.36.199/timp/3 perc/strings
PIANO CONCERTO no 6 op 195 (1965-66) 25'
pno solo + 188.8.131.52:184.108.40.206/timp/3 perc/strings
PIANO CONCERTO no 7 op 243 (1967-69) 23'
pno solo + 220.127.116.11:18.104.22.168/timp/4 perc/strings
VIOLIN CONCERTO no 2 op 136 (1961) 30'
vn solo + 22.214.171.124:126.96.36.199/timp/3 perc/hp/strings
VIOLIN CONCERTO no 4 op 374 (1975) 30'
vn solo + 188.8.131.52:184.108.40.206/timp/3 perc/hp/strings
VIOLA CONCERTO op 303 (1972) 30'
vla solo + 220.127.116.11:18.104.22.168/timp/2 perc/strings
CELLO CONCERTO op 106 (1956) 21'
vc solo + 22.214.171.124:126.96.36.199/strings
CELLO CONCERTO no 3 op 444 (1981-82) 26'
vc solo + 188.8.131.52:184.108.40.206/timp/3 perc/strings
CONCERTO PER FLAUTO E ARCHI op 386 (1976) 12'
fl solo + string orchestra
FLUTE CONCERTO op 388 (1976) 15'
fl solo + 0.2.2.1:220.127.116.11/timp/4 perc/hp/strings
OBOE CONCERTO op 74 (1951) 18'
ob solo + string orchestra
CLARINET CONCERTO op 269 (1970-71) 29'
cl solo + 18.104.22.168:22.214.171.124/timp/4 perc/hp/strings
HORN CONCERTO op 445 (1981) 15'
hn solo + 126.96.36.199:188.8.131.52/timp/2 perc/strings
TUBA CONCERTO op 373 (1975) 20'
tu solo + 184.108.40.206:220.127.116.11/timp/3 perc/strings
CONCERTO for accordion and orchestra 146 (1962-63) 17'
acc solo + 18.104.22.168:22.214.171.124/strings
CONCERTO for 2 pianos and orchestra op 482 (1985) 22'
2 pnos soli + 126.96.36.199:188.8.131.52/timp/5 perc/cel/hp/strings
TRIPLE CONCERTO op 94 (1953) for oboe, clarinet and bassoon soli and string
SINFONIA CONCERTANTE no 2 op 390 (1976) 20'
woodwind quintet soli + ca.bcl.dbn:0.1.1.1/timp/5 perc/strings
chorus and Orchestra
BONJOUR MAX ERNST op 138 (1961) 19'
mixed chorus + 184.108.40.206:220.127.116.11/timp/3 perc/cel/2 hp/pno/strings
Text by the composer
string(s) with piano
TRIO for violin, cello and piano op 25 (1943) 20'
CAPRICCIETTA for violin and piano op 28 (1945) 3'
SQUARE ROOT 3 for violin and piano op 35 (1946) 3'
QUINTET for 2 violins, viola, cello and piano op 196 (1966) 17'
SONATA no 2 for cello and piano op 223 (1967) 20'
SONATA no 3 for cello and piano op 268 (1971) 21'
SONATA no 6 for violin and piano op 280 (1971) 13'
SONATA for violin, viola, cello and piano op 417 (1978) 15'
wind(s) with piano
6 VARIATIONS for flute and piano op 17 (1943) 7'
2 PIECES for oboe and piano op 41 (1946) 11'
SONATA for french horn and piano op 47 (1947) 14'
SONATA for clarinet and piano op 63 (1950) 16'
SONATE POUR COR ANGLAIS ET PIANO op 71 (1951) 10'
SONATA for trumpet and piano op 73 (1951) 10'
SONATINA for descant recorder and harpsichord op 180 (1967) 6'
SEXTET for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn and piano op 278 (1971) 20'
SONATA for bassoon and piano op 316 (1972) 11'
SONATA for soprano saxophone and piano op 478 (1985) 14'
string(s) and wind(s) with piano
CHAMBER CONCERTO FOR 11 INSTRUMENTS op 52 (1948) 18'
3 pno/2 tp/cl/bn/bs/3 perc
MOSAIQUE MUSICALE for flute, violin, cello and piano op 54 (1948) 12'
QUINTET for flute, violin, viola, cello and piano op 130 (1960-61) 13'
SONATA FOR 12 INSTRUMENTS op 257 (1970) 12'
CHÔRO DANIENSIS for flute, clarinet, piano, guitar, percussion, cello
op 548 (1990) 8'
PYRAMID for flute, clarinet, piano, guitar, percussion, cello op 572 (1993)
STRING QUARTET no 3 op 72 (1951) 35'
STRING QUARTET no 6 op 124 (1960) 14'
STRING QUARTET no 8 'Dartmouth Quartet' op 228 (1968) 15'
STRING QUARTET in one Movement op 507 (1987) 9'
STRING QUARTET no 14 op 519 (1987) 17'
DUO KONZERTANTE for violin and double-bass op 531 (1989) 25'
TRIO for trumpet, horn and trombone op 82 (1952) 12'
WOODWIND QUINTET no 5 for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn op 116
QUARTET no 3 for 4 flutes op 385 (1976) 16'
SHELLS 'Konkylier' for saxophone quartet op 555 (1991) 16'
works for 2 pianos
SONATA op 51 (1948) 18'
PROPOSTAE NOVAE op 129 (1960) 19'
SONATA no 2 op 446 (1981) 12'
TEMA CON VARIAZIONI op 449 (1982) 16'
works for solo instrument
THE TEMPERED PIANO
vol 1 op 157 (1964) 75'
vol 2 op 379 (1975-56) 78'
vol 3 op 400 (1976-77) 75'
vol 4 op 409 (1978) 75'
vol 5 op 428 (1978-80) 72'
vol 6 op 470 (1985) 68'
vol 7 op 530 (1989) 60'
vol 8 op 532 (1989) 99'
vol 9 op 541 (1989) 68'
vol 10 op 542 (1990) 65'
vol 11 op 546 (1990) 87'
vol 12 op 554 (1991) 68'
vol 13 op 633 (1996) 95'
other works for piano solo
7 SMALL PIANO PIECES op 3 (1939) 5'
TOCCATA op 10 (1941) 7'
PASSACAGLIA op 31 (1944) 12'
PARTITA op 38 (1945) 21'
SONATA no 2 op 42 (1946) 14'
SONATA no 3 op 44 (1946) 16'
DANCE PIECES op 45 (1946) 12'
CONCERT ETUDES op 48 (1947) 15'
SONATA no 4 op 57 (1948-49) 22'
WOODCUTS op 65 (1950) 18'
SONATA no 5 op 77 (1951) 19'
SONATA no 6 op 90 (1952) 18'
SONATA no 7 op 121 (1959) 15'
15 2-PART INVENTIONS op 159 (1964) 15'
15 3-PART INVENTIONS op 160 (1965) 17'
2 FREDERIKSBERG SUITES op 173-174 (1965) each 16'
SONATA no 8 op 193 (1965) 20'
SONATA no 9 op 194 (1965) 16'
PAGANINI VARIATIONS op 241 (1968) 12'
'HOFFMAN' SONATA op 248 (1969) 17'
SONATA no 18 op 459 (1983) 18'
SONATA no 20 op 461 (1984) 14'
FOREST PIECES op 495 (1986) 10'
PRELUDE, INTERMEZZO AND FUGUE op 13 (1942) 9'
VARIATIONS op 103 (1955) 19'
21 PRELUDES op 458 (1983) 21'
QUASI UNA PASSACAGLIA op 492 (1986) 14'
string instrument solo
STUDY for double bass solo op 34 (1945) 3'
SONATA for cello solo op 110 (1956) 19'
3 SONATAS AND PARTITAS for violin solo op 330 (1973) 45'
VARIATIONS on 'The Volga Boat-men' for cello solo op 354 (1974) 21'
16 ETUDES for cello solo op 464 (1984) 18'
STRUMENTA DIABOLICO op. 664 for guitar solo (1999) 7'
wind instrument solo
VARIATIONS for flute op 93 (1953) 18'
EDITION WILHELM HANSEN AS
DK-1266 København K
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