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Victor BENDIX (1851-1926)
Piano Concerto in G minor op. 17 (1884) [38:06]
Rudolph SIMONSEN (1889-1974)

Piano Concerto in F minor (1915) [30:42]
Oleg Marshev (piano)
Aalborg Symphony Orchestra/Matthias Aeschbacher
rec. 21-27 Jan 2005, Aalborg, Denmark. DDD
Danish Piano Concertos Vol. 4 - Romantic works for piano and orchestra
DANACORD DACOCD 641 [69:07]

Bendix is not a completely unknown quantity. This Danish composer's four symphonies have been recorded on Danacord DACOCD 436-437. He was of the same generation as Glass and Ludolf Nielsen - a generation cast into outer darkness by the brilliance and overwhelming genius of Carl Nielsen.

Bendix's lanky and romantically leonine concerto is in three meaty movements. The first is a substantial allegro moderato which has about it elements of the Brahms First Concerto and the irresistible songfulness of the Scriabin and Arensky concertos. The second is a softly floral and rhapsodic Intermezzo. The allegro vivace carries many resonances but the strongest is early Rachmaninov (First Piano Concerto) - in fact the infamous Rachmaninov Prelude hangs in the air. Did Rachmaninov know this Bendix concerto before he wrote that Prelude. There is certainly more of Rachmaninov (and Tchaikovsky) in this last movement than there is of the decorative Saint-Saens. The sign-off is trampingly conventional but there is much here that will captivate and especially for the enthusiast of romantic piano concertos.

Music is a sacred calling - that was the belief of Rudolph Simonsen. His chamber music includes two string quartets, a piano quartet, a piano quintet and a clarinet quintet. His four symphonies were written between 1921 and 1925 and at the time were seen as a continuation of the Carl Nielsen six. No. 3 Hellas was included in the historic recordings Danacord set DACOCD 370-371. The others are: No. 1 Sion; No. 3 Roma and No. 4 Denmark.

The three movement Simonsen Piano Concerto is from three decades after the Bendix. Even so it is highly romantic. This time there is less of Brahms and Rachmaninov and more of the silvery enchantment of Tchaikovsky but lambently orchestrated and many more 'modern' touches. Towards the end of that first movement the piano solo becomes sternly heroic and fleetingly takes on some of the impress of the Brahms Second Concerto. The Lento is still romantic but is subdued apart from a brief rounded climax at 7:23. There is a ramshackle Lisztian finale full of grotesque fantasy and thundered out victory.

As expected Marshev is completely in command and is a capably sympathetic advocate for these neglected romantic leviathans. Conductor and orchestra match his achievement although the violins lack the lush bloom we might have hoped for.

The booklet notes are by Mogens Wenzel Andreasen so we are in reliable hands; just what is called for with unknown music.

Rob Barnett

Danish Piano Concertos series on DANACORD

Siegfried Langgaard and Rued Langgaard DACOCD 535
August Winding and Emil Hartmann DACOCD 581
Otto Malling, Ludvig Schytte, Siegfried Salomon DACOCD 597

 

 


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