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Eva Knardahl - Great Norwegian Performers 1945-2000, vol. II
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Ballade in G minor, op. 24 (1876) [18:05]
Til våren, from Lyric Pieces III, op. 43 no. 6 [2:39]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1809-1847)
Impromptu no. 1 in A flat major, op. 29 (1837) [3:45]
Nocturne no. 5 in F sharp major, op. 15 no. 2 (1830-31) [4:00]
Mazurka no. 15 in C major, op. 24 no. 2 [2:50]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Sonata in D major, K. 33 [1:36]
Sonata in G major, K. 13 [1:55]
Halfdan KJERULF (1815-1868)
Frühlingslied, op. 28 no. 5 [2:35]
Christian SINDING (1856-1941)
Frühlingsrauschen, op. 32 no. 3 (1896) [2:26]
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, op. 43 (1934) [24:22] ¹
Eva Knardahl (piano)
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Mariss Jansons ¹
rec. 1966-82 (1973 - Grieg, Scarlatti, Grieg, Kjerulf; Sinding: 1966 - Chopin: 1982 - Rachmaninoff)
Experience Classicsonline

Eva Knardahl (1927-2006) is probably best remembered by collectors for her exhaustive work on behalf of Grieg. Her BIS traversal of the complete solo piano music, which she set down in the mid-1970s, was a thoroughly impressive achievement, recognised as such at the time. It also included works unpublished during Grieg's lifetime played by Löve Derwinger. You can find the performances on BIS CD 1626-28. This is by no means the extent of her recording compass, as you come across a number of other important documents in the BIS catalogue and Simax which now releases these 1966-82 inscriptions in its Great Norwegian Performers 1945-2000 series, has already been active on her behalf. Try PSC1021 and 1059 for her Brahms and PSC 1107 for more examples of her penetrating Grieg playing. PSC1082 contains Albéniz, Barber (Excursions), Liszt and Gershwin's Three Preludes.

The current disc is a wide-ranging conspectus that wears a slightly uneven mien given that the Paganini Rhapsody sits alongside some winsome miniatures. But don't let that ostensible lack of focus deflect you if you admire this pianist because these are all previously unissued radio broadcast performances dating from 1966, 1973 and, the most recent, from 1982 (the Rhapsody).

Few are the performances of the Grieg Ballade that really grip. The last really successful performance I heard was that of Andsnes, who has its measure. But Knardahl's April 1973 is another entrant to the superior echelons in this hard-to-gauge work. Architecturally things are constructed with assurance and colouristically there is plenty to grip. Rhythmically she compels attention. As in all good performances we are never conscious of the actual structure, because the ear is led onwards through a number of such subtleties, and the awkward eighteen minute span is held in firm balance. Her Chopin is attractive without being outstanding, whilst the two Scarlatti sonatas show clarity and poise. There is a sequence of National things. To Spring is perhaps inevitable and another souvenir of her sovereign way with the composer. To balance the ubiquity of Sinding's Rustle of Spring we have the wistful charms of the rarely disinterred Spring Song of Halfdan Kjerulf - a salon effusion with some pert moments along its brief way. The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini was taped in 1982 with Mariss Jansons leading the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. They lavish more time over it than was customary in the 'old days' - the composer himself, Moiseiwitsch, Cyril Smith for instance - but this is the modern way generally. It's a straight-ahead performance, Jansons encouraging some sinewy string timbres and Knardahl is good on filigree right hand passagework, Jansons get some string juice into variation eighteen but overall it's a measured, slightly reserved performance.

Knardahl mavens, however, and there will certainly be some, will find these previously unpublished performances indispensable.

Jonathan Woolf 



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