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Neils Viggo BENTZON (1919-2000)
Piano Works: Partita Op. 38 (1945) [20.50]; Sonata No. 7 Op. 121 (1959) [13.51]; Woodcuts Op. 65 (1951) [17.48]; Hoffmann Sonata Op. 248 (1969) [17.14]
Per Salo (piano)
rec. Feb 1992. DDD
KONTRAPUNKT 32111 [70.07]


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Bentzon's colossal output is bewilderingly extensive. Per Salo and Kontrapunkt give us an opportunity to reflect on a sampling from the solo piano works. In listening we would do well to remember that Bentzon, the pianist composer, invested a great deal of his creative self in his music for the instrument. The Partita is an early work written during a tragic and pregnant year in history and encompasses a wide range from the disturbingly clamorous Allegro to the Debussian Intermezzo. No wonder that this was the key to Bentzon's first real recognition. This is succeeded by the patteringly splenetic second intermezzo before a hyper-Handelian striding fanfare. The writing has the clarity of Hindemith but is anarchically restive in a way typical of the composer. Fifteen years later and the composer wrote the four movement Seventh Sonata in a different language which flirts with Schoenbergian dodecaphony (he wrote a book on Schoenberg's twelve-tone music) amid the cerements of romantic protest and the striking of nineteenth century gestures. There were moments when this work had me thinking of Howard Ferguson's Lisztian Piano Sonata. There are eleven Woodcuts. They are closer to the Hindemith pole than to Schoenberg. These miniatures embrace Haydnesque speed, minatory dissonance and Bachian splendour. They could easily have occupied a place in the massive Det Tempererede Klaver sequence recorded by ClassicO and reviewed here. The threatening lullaby of the single movement Hoffmann Sonata is simple yet tender and extremely affecting having the atmosphere of Martinů's Lidice Memorial. From this grows a whirlpool of activity and Lisztian fury (9.37) which when it has subsided leaves us in a still and deeply affecting Debussian pool in which bells toll de profundis.

It is a pity that indexing rather than tracking has been used to separate sections inside each of the four pieces. How many machines these days can access indexing? Certainly mine cannot.

The compact notes are by Anders Beyer and although they mention the Partita and Woodcuts there is no reference to the two sonatas.

Rob Barnett

see also article by Rob Barnett

 



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