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Hans von BÜLOW (1830-1884)
Piano Music - Volume 2
Mazurka-Fantaisie, Op. 13 (1860) [9:47]
Elfenjagd (Impromptu), Op. 14 (1860) [6:51]
Mazurka-Impromptu, Op. 4 (1855) [6:02]
Invitation à la Polka (1855) [6:49]
Chant polonais (alla Mazurka), Op. 12 (1860) [5:39]
Trois Valses caractéristiques, Op. 18 (1865) [17:50]
Königsmarsch, Op. 28 (1880) [8:16]
Mark Anderson (piano)
rec. Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, 17-18 October 2012
NIMBUS NI5907 [61:16]

Volume One was reviewed on this site by both Jonathan Woolf and myself, positively in both cases. The reviews were published February/March 2012, and so it is that 18 months later the second instalment reaches the light of day. It happily expands the catalogue with pieces of splendid finish and invention in performances, once again, of great panache.
 
The first piece, Mazurka-Fantaisie (Breslau, 1860) is fascinating, and arguably the finest piece on the disc. Its initial exploratory nature - the opening is surprisingly modern - that falls into a more reassuring waltz before becoming more disjunct again, is most refreshing. Some passages might tend towards kitsch in lesser hands, but Anderson is very attuned to the composer's mode of expression and presents the whole as a piece of integrity. If the Mazurka-Fantaisie includes challenging elements for the listener, Elfenlied, as the name implies, is perhaps predictably more Mendelssohn-inspired. It is, texturally speaking, wonderfully interesting, and there is a detectable debt to the Liszt of Gnomenreigen though it’s not an overly strong flavour. Anderson's playing is wonderfully gentle, either in the scurrying sections or in the contrasting passages.
 
Complementing the Mazurka-Fantaisie is a Mazurka-Impromptu, sharing the same composition date and place (Breslau) with the ensuing Invitation à la Polka. The former is teasing and capricious, with Anderson finding much to raise a smile from the listener. The latter boasts a more variegated surface before rising to properly virtuoso writing, effortlessly despatched here.
 
The Chant Polonais (alla Mazurka)is actually a transcription of Truhn's “Der letzte Pole”. Composed in Hamburg in 1860, over the space of a mere 5:39 the piece covers a wide terrain, from Schumannesque interiorisation through to more burnished Brahmsian writing. The end is positively outrageous.
 
The three Valses-caractéristiques each have their own title: “L'Ingénu”, “Jaloux” and “Glorieux”. The title is given correctly in the booklet (“Valses”) but as “Trois Valse characteristique” on the back of the jewel case and the track-listing of the booklet. A Leipzig composition from 1865, this seems to represent some of the composer's most assured writing. Anderson offers gorgeous, teasing playing in both the first two; the final effort, “Glorieux”, is more restrained than its title implies.
 
Finally, we reach the 1880 Königsmarsch, composed in Munich. It provides pretty much what it says on the tin. There is a real regality about it all but there are also meltingly beautiful, yet still noble, contrasts.
 
The recording is exemplary, full yet clear.
 
Colin Clarke

Previous review: Paul Corfield Godfrey