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The Lark
Joseph HAYDN (1732–1809)
Piano Sonata in E Minor, Hob.XVI:34 [12:41]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833–1897)
Klavierstücke, Op. 119 [14:58]
Alexander BORODIN (1833–1887)
Petite Suite pour piano [19:12]
Mikhail GLINKA (1804 – 1857)
The Lark – Andante quasi recitativo (arr. Mily Balakirev) [5:15]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
Ungarische Melodie [3:29]
Christian Ihle Hadland (piano)
rec. 27-29 March 2014, Ĝstsiden kirke, Fredrikstad, Norway

Christian Ihle-Hadland has for more than ten years made for himself a name as one of the foremost Norwegian classical musicians, as accompanist, chamber musician and solo pianist. I have previous reviewed him accompanying Isa Katharina Gericke in a song recital that was a tribute to Eva Nansen (review), and together with violinist Henning Kraggerud in a delightful programme with music by Christian Sinding (review).

That he is a versatile musician is also confirmed through the present disc, titled The Lark after Glinka’s song, performed here in an arrangement by Balakirev.

The opening Haydn sonata is as good as anything as a calling-card: the feather-light delicate finger-work in the presto; the same light touch in the slow movement, which is rather improvisatory; the impromptu feeling of the lively finale, where he also retains the lightness. This is Haydn playing of the highest order.

Brahms’ late piano pieces are in many respects a world removed from Haydn. Where Haydn is fresh as spring, Brahms breathes autumn – but it is an autumn of great beauty. Even autumn has its jolly moments as is shown in the Rhapsodie.

Borodin’s Petite Suite is from 1884-85, just a couple of years before his untimely death. It can hardly be classified as a very deep work – but it is entertaining. Au couvent makes for a solemn opening, bells are ringing and there are reminiscences of Bach. The Intermezzo is a minuet, rather brittle in tone. There are two mazurkas, the first quite burlesque, the second lighter in tone. Rêverie is lyrical and delicate, the Serenade is swift and light, the Nocturne is more like an evening promenade before bedtime. The seven pieces constitute an unassuming but agreeable suite, expertly played.

The Lark is possibly Glinka’s best known song, and it functions very well as a piano piece too. Balakirev’s arrangement is virtuosic in the middle section, but the beautiful melody gets its due in the opening pages.

Schubert visited the then Hungarian town of Zseliz in 1824. Hungarian folk music caught his imagination and inspired his Divertissement a l’hongroise (D818), which was composed at the same time. Ungarische Melodie is a charming piece, which works as an encore to an interesting and highly satisfying recital a little off the standard concept. Christian Ihle Hadland is a sensitive interpreter of these stylistically rather disparate works. This disc should appeal to many readers. George Hall’s liner-notes are an excellent guide to a deeper appreciation of the music.

Göran Forsling



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