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.