Torben Enghoff (b. 1947)
For All Ages: Pieces for Piano
Christina Bjørkøe (piano)
rec. 2022, Danish National Academy of Music, Odense, Denmark
DANACORD DACOCD947 
Torben Enghoff begins rather modestly by explaining that he is “largely self-taught and [does] not compose according to rules”. More self-deprecatingly, he admits that he “hardly can play the piano”. So, many of the pieces on this CD are “obviously simple”. I remember a now highly regarded keyboardist once telling me that “easy music” can be much harder to interpret than more technically demanding works. And this applies to these seventeen short character pieces. I have not seen the piano score, but something tells me that they are about Grade 5 tops.
Stylistically, these magical little numbers are hard to pin down. To be sure, the liner notes give a list of composers that have particularly fascinated Enghoff. These include Scarlatti, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Chopin from the Classical and Romantic era, and Nielsen, Poulenc, Ravel, Satie, Chick Corea and Bill Evans from nearer our time. He made one omission: Robert Schumann. I was reminded not so much in sound, but in ethos of the latter’s Album for the Young
Op 68. But I do not think that Enghoff’s album increases with difficulty as the pages turn.
Some of these charming pieces stand out. The Waltz for Two Little Teddy Bears and Song for Muffy will appeal to all who still have and cherish their childhood bears. On Bicycle to Ib’s House recalls a journey to visit fellow musician and friend Ib Nørholm. November is dark and dreary, whilst Rain in June is a touch melancholy. The Snow Dance has all the repressed excitement of the child impatient to get outside and sledge, slide and throw snowballs.
The liner notes, in English and Danish, give a brief biography of the composer. Torben Enghoff is also a teacher, musician and author. His background is jazz, as well as writing for contemporary Danish composers such as Per Nørgård, Ib Nørholm and Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen. Included is a short resume of the soloist. There are precious few details about some of the numbers but the short comments are quite sufficient to stir the listener’s imagination. All the tunes except Snow Dance have been published in a single album by Edition Wilhelm Hansen.
Most of these miniatures are around the minute mark, so this is a short album – but it cost half the market rate of a standard Danacord CD, so it is still fair value for money.
Christina Bjøkøe’s playing is exemplary. She brings out the innocence, the joy, the sadness and the tenderness of all these pieces. As a modern-day Album for the Young, it is a delight.
Waltz for Two Little Teddy Bears
Diva, the Little Dog
On Bicycle to Ib’s House
Song for Muffy
The Joy of Tuesday
In the Playground
Rain in June
A Little Spring Waltz
Kirsten in her Garden
Everything will be All Right
Good Night Melody
Published: October 19, 2022