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Thomas D. A. TELLEFSEN
Complete Piano Works - Vols 1-4

Malgorzata Jaworska (piano).
rec. 1999-2007
ACTE PRÉALABLE
AP0049, AP0062, AP0064, AP0154

 

Thomas D. A. TELLEFSEN (1823-1874)
Complete Piano Works Volume 1

Quatre Mazurkas op. 1 (1846) [11:39]
Grande Mazurka op. 24 in B flat major (1857) [5:48]
Walhallafesten op. 40 (c.1873) [5:30]
Nocturne op. 39 in G flat major (1872) [5:09]
Sonate op. 13 in C minor (1848) [18:58]
Trois Valses op. 5 (1851) [7:41]
Grande Valse op. 30 no. 1 in F major (c.1860-62) [4:35]
Grande Valse op. 30 no. 2 in F minor (c.1860-62) [4:54]
Au travers d'un songe op. 34 [3:59]
La petite mendiante op. 23 (c.1857) [2:11]
Malgorzata Jaworska (piano)
rec. Warsaw Studio S2, December 1999
ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0049 [70:32]

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Complete Piano Works Volume 2
Grande Etude op. 25 [4:18]
Feuillets d'Album op. 16 [12:52]
Impromptu op. 38 in G major [3:53]
Elégie op. 7 (1852) [8:11]
Allegretto in A major op.20 [3:03]
Grande Polonaise op. 18 in C sharp major (1855) [9:12]
Mazurkas op. 14 (1853-54) [18:33]
Marche Triomphale op. 29 in E flat major (1860) [8:13]
Malgorzata Jaworska (piano)
rec. Warsaw Studio S2, July 2000
ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0062 [68:22]

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Complete Piano Works Volume 3
Valse in D flat major op. 27 (1850s) [3:39]
Ballade op. 28 (1860) [4:08]
Mazurka in A major op. 33 (1860s) [5:52]
Tarantelle op. 6 (1851) [4:07]
Nocturne in G minor op. 17 (c.1850s pub. 1885) [4:40]
Adagio et Rondo op. 10 (1850) [9:37]
Quatre Mazurkas op. 3 (1849) [9:56]
Bruraslaatten op. 26 (1850s) [3:55]
Huldredansen op. 9 (1850s) [3:01]
Mélodies écossaises op. 42 [7:41]
Nocturne in F major op. 2 (1849) [4:12]
Pavane de la Reine Elisabeth op. 44 (pub.1881) [6:25]
Malgorzata Jaworska (piano)
rec. Warsaw Studio S2, July 2000 and June 2001
ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0064 [67:19]

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Complete Piano Works Volume 4
Thème original et Fantaisie Op. 12 [10:58]
Toccata Op. 22 [9:34]
Exercice en sixtes Op. 43 [2:56]
Capriccio appassionato Op. 36 (1868) [6:08]
Nocturne in E major Op. 11 (1853) [3:05]
Sonate pour deux pianos Op. 41 (1870) [25:23] *
Malgorzata Jaworska (piano)
Joanna Lawrynowicz and Krystyna Makowska (pianos)*
rec. Warsaw Studio S1, July 2006 and February 2007
ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0154 [58:08]

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Thomas Tellefsen is succinctly summed up in the booklet notes as "Norwegian composer and Chopin’s pupil." He was born in 1823 in Trondheim and studied the piano, moving to Paris in 1842. It was George Sand who arranged Tellefsen’s first meeting with Chopin in November 1844 and the Norwegian studied piano and composition with him until 1847. In 1848, after the Revolution, they both travelled to London. Tellefsen was clearly trusted by Chopin; the planned Chopin piano school (never realised) was to have been organised by Tellefsen. But after Chopin’s death Tellefsen did take on a number of Chopin’s students and his reputation as a pedagogue increased. After another spell in London, from 1870-73, to escape the Franco-German war, he returned to the city where he had spent almost his entire adult life and it was here that he died in 1874.

Tellefsen was clearly a leading Parisian virtuoso. He frequently performed Chopin’s works as well as his own solo and concertante works. He disseminated baroque literature, teamed up with eminent chamber music contemporaries, Gounod among them, and worked unstintingly as an editor. He wrote forty-four works and broadly sought to fuse Norwegian folk influences with Chopinesque models such as mazurkas and ballades. He is now no more than a footnote in Chopin studies so this welcome collection of four discs – realised under the rubric Chopin’s Disciples is a valuable opportunity to acquaint oneself with the music of an executant-composer now almost completely forgotten.

The four volumes were recorded in sequence between 1999 and 2007. The first volume includes the Op.1 Mazurkas, simple and effective Norwegian-hued pieces. The third has a certain tristesse whilst the final one is the most Chopin influenced and sporting rather too much decorative business. The works aren’t presented chronologically so the late c.1873 Walhallafesten sits in the first volume alongside these early examples. It’s obviously a much more sophisticated affair and the name suggests the Norwegian influence – a fine dance tune, limpidly spun, and with fine right hand tracery. The 1848 Sonata is by contrast a very old-fashioned salon affair with a central movement that maybe hints at Schumann. One of the highlights of this first volume is Au travers d'un songe, a brief but rather lovely and flowing cantabile with broken chords in semi quavers – interesting to reflect on its possible influence on Chopin. It’s the best piece here – a worthy entrant to the concert repertoire.

The second volume sports a flowing Grande Etude and a decidedly Chopinesque Feuillets d'Album – especially the funeral march [No.3] which pays strong homage to the similar movement in Chopin’s sonata. The Elégie is another sombre work ending in a chorale but good programming ensures that this downbeat sequence is ended by a light-hearted Allegretto. The Grande Polonaise is by contrast powerful, dramatic and processional – a fine vehicle for salon and recital hall virtuosity – and one that has a particularly fine dolce section. The op.14 Mazurkas are an attractive set, indebted to Norwegian folk models as much as Chopin, though perhaps a touch cosmopolitan in style. The second disc ends with the maestoso grandeur of the Marche Triomphale.

The op.28 Ballade, which opens volume three, is strongly hewn and has a concentrated power that impresses powerfully. Certainly its indebtedness to Chopin is clear but what’s equally evident is the strength of Tellefsen’s own imaginative resources and creative independence. This having been noted one problem with a complete survey such as this is the up-and-down nature of the inspiration. After this fine work we have some appealing but essentially decorative pieces of no great intrinsic merit. Still, the Huldredansen is an attractive Norwegian halling and the fourth of the Op.3 set of Mazurkas sounds strongly like a Polish kuyawiak.

The fourth and final volume similalrly ranges over Tellefsen’s oeuvre though it focuses a little more closely on the later works. The relatively early Thème original et Fantaisie is notable for an influence otherwise largely missing from his compositions – Liszt, whose shade adds portentous gravity to the opening before the more expected Chopin-styled decoration takes over. The Op.22 Toccata is technically taxing though hardly in Schumann’s league compositionally. The Exercice en sixtes is what it sounds like – pedagogic in origin. Capriccio appassionato is rather flashy, and the Nocturne Op.11 owes a dual Field-Chopin inheritance. Finally there’s a big Sonata for two pianos, the only work here not played by the indefatigable Malgorzata Jaworska; Joanna Lawrynowicz and Krystyna Makowska do the honours for this work. Written in 1870 this is an exciting if, by then, rather old hat opus. Over-extended it most certainly is but the players relish the enjoyable tunes and the clamorous drive of the thing.

This series of four discs is excellently annotated and has some rather beautiful art work into the bargain. Texts are in Polish, English, French and Norwegian. Malgorzata Jaworska is the dedicated and accomplished star of the series and she’s been generally well recorded; there’s too much air around the action of her piano in volume three but the ear adjusts. A highlights disc might be appropriate in order to focus the ear on Tellefsen’s best works but the Completist will have his fill with this set - all available singly by the way.

Jonathan Woolf





 


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