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Fini HENRIQUES (1867-1940)
Piano Music
Children's Poetry, Op. 30 (1908)
Melodic Album, Op. 50 (1919)
Miniature Water-Colours, Op. 21 (1900)
Thomas Trondhjem (piano)
rec. 2018, Skt Markus Kirke, Århus, Denmark

Here are 52 little pieces for solo piano. There is every reason to believe that they were primarily composed for children and young people. They are marshalled into three published sequences. The three volumes are packed, with agreeable repletion, into one Danacord CD.

Danish composer, Fini Henriques, studied with Svendsen and then, in Berlin, with Joachim and Woldemar Bargiel; the latter being half-brother to Clara Schumann and a student of Niels Gade. Friendship over many years with Carl Nielsen (contrast with Rued Langgaard) also left room for closeness with Ludolf Nielsen and Johan Halvorsen both of whom dedicated music to him. Danish Radio have kept his name and music in mind with productions of the full-scale ballet The Little Mermaid (1909) and Symphony in C major (1896), the former by the Odense orchestra conducted by Børge Wagner and the latter by the Sønderjyllands orchestra conducted by the long-lived Henrik Sachsenskjold (1918-2016). Henriques’s music also puts in a showing on disc in orchestral form and in the shape of violin and piano miniatures elsewhere

As to the music, performances and commodious recordings here, there is about these short vignettes a backward-looking smiling affection and never a hint of a smirk. Each is of roughly two minutes duration, give or take some seconds. They wear their smile lightly. There is little evident complexity about them nor anything to catch in the throat or abrade or roughen the listener. Thomas Trondhjem is clearly a true believer. He already has two CD volumes of Henriques’ songs to his credit on CDKlassisk. The mood is never navigated far from the sort of portolan that each composer used in Schumann’s Kinderszenen or Elgar’s Wand of Youth. If you are looking for other comparisons then try or relate to the Fifty Romantic Pieces (1949) by Richard Flury (1896-1967) or the similarly intended music of Johan Jeverud (b. 1962) or Ernesto Drangosch (1882-1925)

Children's Poetry accommodates the trippingly Mozartean Little Chinese Girl which find a parallel in Cat After the Mouse in Op. 21. Sweet depths are implied in Denmark and there’s a delightful fairy-tale fantasy in The Songbird. Variation is accommodated within these innocent bounds: try the quirkily gangling Jester and the dreamy hint of dank realms just off the path if you wander (The Lonely Person). Henriques’ palette takes in the flighty in Catch me if you can and a vague hint of Rachmaninov in The Minuet of Sorrow; good title. The dance-inclined Melodic Album has yet more of a Wolfgang ‘flicker’ with the suggestion of happy summer days in Always Happy and in the Griegian fjord dance in Russian Dance. Just to unnerve you there’s a rare cognitive-dissonance in To the scaffold. It’s just a bit too jolly so as perhaps not to alarm the little ones. In Miniature Water-Colours we get a not very exuberant Hoppy de Hop where the creature doing the hopping seems to have a little think between hops. Any hesitation intended is expiated in Little Rogue and Willow o’ the Wisp with its odd harmonic glints and flashes. The final Melodie acts like an anchor and does so with what amounts to a noble hymn-like effusion.

Rob Barnett
Children's Poetry, Op. 30 (1908)
[01] The little Chinese Girl [0:51]
[02] Lullaby [1:02]
[03] March: Soldiers [0:50]
[04] Behind the Plough [2:11]
[05] The Jester [1:26]
[06] The Lonely Person [1:48]
[07] In the Ring [1:10]
[08] Evening [1:45]
[09] In a good Mood [1:49]
[10] The Minuet of Sorrow [3:53]
[11] Catch me if you can! [0:30]
[12] The Juggler [0:51]
[13] The Pantomime [2:24]
[14] A Walk through the Desert [1:06]
[15] Summer Game [1:57]
[16] Denmark [2:25]
[17] The Songbird [1:18]
[18] The Dance of the Wild People [1:23]
[19] It was only a Dream [3:03]
[20] The two elderly People [2:50]

Melodic Album, Op. 50 (1919)
[21] Infantry [1:04]
[22] Hunt the Thimble [0:32]
[23] Sorrowful [1:39]
[24] In the Monkeyhouse [0:42]
[25] Queen of Hearts [1:07]
[26] Always happy [0:51]
[27] The Dunce [1:26]
[28] True as Gold [1:39]
[29] Quarrelsome [0:40]
[30] Russian Dance [0:46]
[31] Viennese Waltz [1:16]
[32] At the Grave [2:44]
[33] Artillery [1:09]
[34] The Smallest [0:50]
[35] The Chatterbox [0:58]
[36] Twilight [1:27]
[37] To the Scaffold [1:45]
[38] Dancing Bears [1:25]
[39] A Stranger [2:14]
[40] Mournful [1:26]
[41] Evening Song [1:15]
[42] The Night [1:50]

Miniature Water-Colours, Op. 21 (1900)
[43] Hoppy de hop [0:51]
[44] Once one is one [1:38]
[45] Little Rogue [1:30]
[46] Anthem [1:26]
[47] Lullaby [1:12]
[48] The Cat after the Mouse [0:57]
[49] Doggy’s Death [2:50]
[50] In the Kindergarten [2:08]
[51] Will o'the Wisp [1:05]
[52] Melody [1:09]

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