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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett



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Neils Viggo BENTZON (1919-2000)
Chôro Daniensis * Op. 548 (1990) [7.31]
September Moods 1-6 (1997) [15.34]
Six Variations over an Original Theme Op. 17 (1942) [9.03]
Pyramid * Op. 572 (1993) [5.19]
Cabaret Voltaire - Three Dadaistic Studies for tenor and guitar * Op. 551 (1990) [5.43]
Mosaïque Musicale Op. 54 (1950) [11.57]
Violin Sonata No. 1 Op. 4 (1939) [6.09]
Tsetse Fly * Op. 604 (1995) [5..45]
Niels Viggo Bentzon (piano)
Jan Lund (tenor)
Ricardo Odriozola (violin)
Ensemble Nord (works written for them indicated *): Karen Skriver (fl); Peter Lindegaard (cl); Otto Aandersson (vc); Curt Kollavik-Jensen (guitar); Torsten Folke Pedersen (perc); Sven Birch (pf); Ricardo Odrizola (vn); Jan Lund (ten); composer (piano)
rec 1997 DDD
KONTRAPUNKT 32265 [66.46]

Bentzon was prodigiously productive. Just look at the opus numbers above. He rivals Hovhaness, Milhaud and Martinu. There are in excess of 25 symphonies, four operas, eight ballets and more than forty concertos.

This recital takes in miniatures from both extremities of his career. Most of the later pieces were written specially for Ensemble Nord. These are interspersed with the composer playing his Six September Moods for solo piano. These pieces are concentrated, fluent, sincere, eloquent, autumnally contented (tr. 4), a little dissonant (tr. 2 and tr. 14) and supremely confident. In No. 3 Bentzon crosses, in modern garb, Bachian fantasy, Cyril Scott's Rainbow Trout and Finzi-like contemplation. These are not at all hard work to listen to and would reward the young pianist who is prepared to seek them out. If you want to programme these as a sequence set tracks 2, 4, 6, 10, 12 and 14.

The Six Variations are charming, Gallic, piercing, regretful (deliciously so at 8.23) and capricious. I did not pick up the Hindemith influence referred to by the composer. Pyramid is viewed by the composer as a sister work to Chôro Daniensis his mosaic tribute to Villa-Lobos in personal echo of the folk-inspired Chôros of the Brazilian composer. Much more than Chôro this work proceeds by way of fragile fragments like a room full of floating broken clockwork. The same can be said of Tsetse Fly which has a few stinging screeches as well as some metallic buzzing. There is something of Webern in this. Each fragment however is tonal and episodes often have strong rhythmic interest. This probably ties in with Bentzon's keen interest in jazz.

The three songs of Cabaret Voltaire are subtitled Drei Dadaistische Studien für Tenor und Guitar. The composer assures us that the individual words are not important and as if to affirm this they are not printed. The poems, all from 1920, are by Theo von Doesburg, Hugo Ball and Vicente Huidobro. The singer sings, falsetto, whispers and generally runs the gamut of twentieth century stage-craft. Once again each element is tuneful just disconcertingly juxtaposed.

The Mosaique shows the usual Bentzon traits of fragmentation and immersion in the melodic-episodic. The earliest piece on the disc is the Violin Sonata from 1939. It plays for only 6:09. There is greater line-continuity here - often flighty and liquidly flowing but also taking a gaunt Bachian line from the Sonatas and Partitas as at 04:06.

The liner notes, which are not without humour, are by the composer though they make no reference to the September Moods which may well have been added at the last moment.

Ensemble Nord was founded by a group of artists from North Jutland. It comprises flute, clarinet, cello, piano, guitar and percussion - a far from obvious mix.

Rob Barnett

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