Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Piano Music

Chaconne Op. 32 (1916) [9.18]
Suite - Den Luciferiske Op. 45 (1920) [20.50]
Three Piano Pieces Op. 59 (1928) [10.03]
Five Piano Pieces Op. 3 (1890) [7.27]
Humoreske-bagateller Op. 11 (1897) [4.53]
Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)
rec. 27-31 Mar 1995, St George's, Brandon Hill, DDD
VIRGIN CLASSICS 7243 5 62040 2 7 [54.23]


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS Budget price

Mina Miller's recording of the complete Nielsen piano music used to be a mainstay of the Hyperion LP catalogue. Somehow it never made it onto CD ... at least not for Hyperion. In fact it was then licensed to Jesper Bühl's company Danacord who steadfastly keep the set in currency. Miller was, I seem to recall, rather good in her Nielsen but Andsnes strikes me as outstanding. The only real downside is that this is a rather parsimoniously timed anthology running five or six minutes short of an hour let alone being anywhere near 79 minutes!

Nielsen's piano music is still fairly obscure so having his strongest pieces in such visionary performances from Andsnes makes for potent advocacy. Heavens the next thing you know Andsnes might feel moved to record collections of Langgaard, Holmboe, Saar and Tubin. We can live in hope!

The Chaconne is elegant and touched with the enchantment of a Chopin mazurka. Andsnes is terse and bullish in the Den Luciferiske suite Op. 45. Here Nielsen wrote one of his most revolutionary works; rather like Cowell and starry skies. This contrasts with the robust heroics of the suite's molto adagio. The composer's heritage from Bach and Grieg is also discernible. The final piece in the group is alive with sturdy fantasy. After this twenty minute suite comes the Op. 50 triptych. These pieces speak of dislocated universes and feature a strong rhythmic tread - a Bartókian 'footprint'. They often express themselves through a determined gawkiness and rustic ecclesiatical serenity. I thought of Conlon Nancarrow when hearing the quiet rapid running rivulets and dissonance in this sequence. Ravel in haunted Pierrot weeds can also be heard. From very early on come the Five Pieces. Grieg and Bach are once again the exemplars. A cool innocence I associate with Chopin appears in several of these pieces. Also of early vintage is the Op. 11 Humoresk sequence with its collision between Handelian quietude, Chopin waltzes, gawky elegance (in Sprællemanden, tr. 19) and toy-box Mozartian carillons (Spilleværket, tr. 21)

The notes are by Nielsen expert, Robert Layton with an additional personal note on the Chaconne by Leif Ove Andsnes.

Rob Barnett

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