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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

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Classico Records

Tonya Lemoh - piano
Franz LISZT (1811-1886) La Vallée d'Obermann [11:45]
Frederick CHOPIN (1810-1849) Sonata in B minor Op. 35 no. 2 [19:17]
Charles GRIFFES (1884-1920) The White Peacock (Roman Sketches Op. 7 no. 1), The Fountain of the Acqua Paola (Roman Sketches op. 7 no. 3) [4:16; 2:55]
Niels Viggo BENTZON (1919-2000) Suite (Ouverture, Rigaudon, Courante, Sarabande, Menuet, Réjouissance, Sicilienne, Gigue) [10:08]
Alberto GINASTERA (1916-1983) Danzas Argentinas (Danza del viejo boyero; Danze de la moza danosa; Danza del gaucho matrero) [7:49]
J.S. BACH arr F. BUSONI Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ BWV 639 [3:27]
Tonya Lemoh (piano)
rec. live, Musikhuset Aarhus 3 Nov 2004.
CLASSICO CLASSCD913 [60:35]

This is an enterprising ClassicO disc of a recital given in Aarhus by Tonya Lemoh, an Australian pianist now on the piano faculty at Copenhagen University. It makes for a most diverting concert programme and if some limitations are evident it certainly doesnít diminish enthusiasm for some important features of her musicianship. Nor indeed of her invigorating choice of the Bentzon (more later), Ginastera and the Griffes.

The domestic catalogue is certainly not groaning under the weight of Griffes piano recordings, and that despite the fact that Myra Hess, no less, recorded a famous disc of The White Peacock back in 1929. The piano version is seldom programmed these days and itís enjoyable to hear Lemohís performance, though the rather swimmy acoustic rather drains it of immediacy. The Fountain of the Acqua Paola fares rather better in his respect, which is fortunate as this is a work even less performed than its Opus mate. I enjoyed its glittering expressionism in this performance.

Ginasteraís Danzas Argentinas must owe something at least linguistically to Granados but the fruity, rhythmic nationalism is all Ginasteraís own. Short though they are the trio is convincingly played here Ė thereís buoyant malambo rhythm for the first, and a Criollo slow, sinuous second cousin of Ragtime, dance for number two. The third is a driving moto perpetuo, and a malambo of real vigour, played here with great assurance and attack.

Chopinís sonata takes a while to get going and is consistently fast in the opening. I enjoyed the good più lento section in the Scherzo. Itís a shame that it didnít settle down because the makings of an understanding performance are there. Brave of her to take on the Liszt, though its gargantuan presence is clearly not off-putting.

Bentzonís Suite is a "transcribed version of a live performance" that the composer gave. There are eight movements. He declined an invitation to write down his own improvised performance, impishly declaring that he would write another sonata instead, so it was Tonya Lemoh and her husband, Thomas Walbum (Bentzonís nephew) who transcribed it. Dating though it does from the 1970s and fully improvised itís still a most rewarding opportunity to hear some "new" Bentzon. All the movements are short and they move from baroque sounding procedures, to rhythmic drive and neo-classicism. The Rigaudon is playful, the Courante surgingly dramatic, the Sarabande compact and concentrated, the Réjouissance suitably driving and full of élan, and the Sicilienne is elegant and weighted with aplomb.

Thereís an encore to end the concert in the shape of the Bach-Busoni Ich rufí zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ. She takes a good tempo but phrase endings are rather droopy as a result of excessive rubato. But there are rewarding things here and Lemohís proselytising on behalf of Bentzon is especially to be welcomed.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review from Rob Barnett

 

 



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