One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

 


tenor and baritone


RECORDING OF THE MONTH
A very fine achievement


Complete ballet


Orchestral Music


music that will please greatly


Captivating scores

Symphonies - Philippe Jordan
A pleasure to see and hear


vital imagination


Henrik HELLSTENIUS
A harum-scarum springboard


Always expect the unexpected

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

To gain a 10% discount, use the link below & the code MusicWeb10

Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871-1927)
Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 1 (1893) [49:53]
Sensommarnätter (Late Summer Nights), Op.33 (1914) [17:16]
Irène Mannheimer (piano), Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Charles Dutoit
rec. September 1977, Gothenburg Concert Hall (Concerto), March 1989, Studio 3, Swedish Radio, Stockholm
STERLING CDS1004-2 [67:14]

Wilhelm Stenhammar’s First Piano Concerto is the work of his youth—the opus number already suggests as much. At the time, his compositional activities focussed on the piano, and his sound-world was still closely aligned with the German romantics whose music he took in during his studies. His musical education came at the hands of Richard Andersson, his piano professor at the Swedish Royal Conservatory (a Clara Schumann pupil). Stenhammar was further molded during his subsequent studies in Berlin (1890-1892). It is not surprising, then, that the obvious model for the grand, 50-minute Piano Concerto No.1 is Brahms in general and his Piano Concerto in the same key, B-flat minor, also in four movements. On hearing the very opening of the first movement, meanwhile, the ears tell you right off the bat: “Hello, Brahms Tragic Overture!” Stenhammar, who was also a pianist, performed his concerto all over the world, with the likes of Richard Strauss and Hans Richter conducting. Whenever Rob Barnett, MusicWeb’s go-to Stenhammar-man, has written about them, he also invoked Edvard Grieg’s, Charles Villiers Stanford’s Second, and Sergei Bortkiewicz’s piano concertos as analogies… and I can see why. Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Elgar, Schumann are also in the vicinity.

Stenhammar is a wonderful composer for anyone who loves the late romantic style of these fellow travelers. Granted, at the time, this was backward-looking music. But since we are largely backward-hearing listeners anyway, that is no longer a concern. Whether the music is worth hearing is rather the question. For Stenhammar, that question has been answered in the affirmative, I would think, but it is best to affirm it oneself, continually. This concerto, this disc certainly helps to that end. The recording is relatively old—1977 for the concerto, remastered in 2003—and very good.

There is competition, of course, even in this repertoire. Seta Tanyel has recorded Stenhammar’s both concertos with the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Manze (on Hyperion, review). Mats Widlund has recorded the First on Chandos, and so did Love Derwinger with the Malmö SO under Paavo Järvi, for BIS (including all the other orchestral music; review). The latter has also been re-issued on Brilliant Classics (now only including the symphonies but still a fine booklet; review). I have not heard, but now rather want to hear, Seta Tanyel, but the other recordings do not, at the very least, best Irène Mannheimer with Charles Dutoit. What Mannheimer/Dutoit may lack in that last bit of spark in the jaunty Vivacissimo second movement, they more than make up in the sweepingly lyrical and powerfully gorgeous Andante (with a hint of Brahms’s Waltz in A-Flat Major in the undergrowth?), for which they take all their merry time getting through, before launching themselves into the memorable, thematically slightly repetitive grand finale, Allegro commodo.

Compared to the concerto, the fairly substantial, five-movement Sensommarnätter (Late Summer Nights) becomes rather a bagatelle. Long in the making, finished in 1914, this is Scandinavian Indian summer meets nocturne, a few steps away from the world of Brahms but not quite yet arriving at the Sibelian idiom that Stenhammar approximated in his late works. It is lit by a long-lasting but pale sun, and rather melancholy—a feeling that Irène Mannheimer gets to very nicely. So does Cassandra Wyss (Capriccio, review), whose account is even more indulgent, whereas Martin Sturfält (Hyperion, review) takes a swifter, more bubbly approach. Bernt Wilhelmsson (IntimMusik) falls in between, but does little—arguably less than Mannheimer—to make this music sound less slight than it is.

Jens F. Laurson

 

 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

 

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Arcodiva
Atoll 10% off
CDAccord
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Hortus
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sheva £2 off
Sheva Contemporary
Sterling 10% off
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger