Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

FRANZ BERWALD (1796-1868)
Piano Concerto
Theme and Variations
Tempo di Marcia
Presto Feroce
Duo for violin and piano

Greta Erikson (piano) Josef Grünfarb (violin) Swedish Radio Orchestra/Stig Westerberg
first issued on LP 1972 GENESIS GCD 111 [61.41]

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The Genesis label was a pioneer in recording the unconsidered corners of romantic era music way back in the late 1960s. Those thick card LP sleeves were to be found in specialist import shops like Record Hunter alongside such esoterica as Poseidon's Hovhaness series and the Louisville Edition. Prices (at least in the UK) were to match the rarity of these discs. Now there are multiple romantic piano concerto series: Vox, Naxos and Hyperion. Genesis are still there and their catalogue, now reissued on CD, comes up sparkling new.

The Berwald Piano Concerto is a delight which can be equated with its soul-mate the Robert Schumann concerto. It is extremely romantic - scintillating grace with little or nothing of the vapid about it. The three movements are played without a break. The performance and startlingly clear (hiss-free) recording compares very well with the EMI Bjorlin/Migdal recording on Matrix. The break between the end of the concerto and the pieces for solo piano is too short.

The first three solo piano pieces are from 1818-1820. These all echo and re-echo with the lighter Beethoven and with the charm of Mozart. The Presto Feroce (1859-1860) is frankly not all that ferocious. All four solos are pleasing rather than compelling.

After the shallows comes a work of much greater reach. The Duo is from circa 1860 written during Berwald's chamber music phase - after the symphonies of the 1840s. The notes point out that the music is often in three parts with the pianist's right and left hands articulating quite separate parts while the violin occupies the singer's prerogative. The music is very satisfying and will appeal to all enthusiasts.

Greta Erikson is a very fine pianist indeed with a poetically balanced touch.

The liner notes are substantial and useful and the disc's virtues are reinforced by a stunning sessions photo of Westerberg, Erikson and Commagère.

An easily recommendable choice for the fancier of 19th centuy romantica or those with a predilection for the Schumann, early Beethoven or late Mozart concertos. The Concerto is very well worth getting to know.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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