Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Niels Viggo BENTZON (191-2000)
Piano Works
Toccata (1941)
Partita (1945)
Woodcut (1947)
Kaleidoskop (1952)
Anker Blyme (piano)
rec Birkerod Jan/May 2000
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Niels Viggo Bentzon died in the year 2000.

He was an estimable composer of serious inclination, fluent articulation and profusely productive (there are more than 24 symphonies and at least seven piano concertos). It is regrettable that his music never travelled much beyond the bounds of his native Denmark. Ole Schmidt conducted his symphonies 3 (24 August 1979), 4 (15 April 1981) and 5 (30 August 1979) with, respectively the BBCSO, BBC Scottish and BBC Northern. Otherwise you may well know him only from the Turnabout LP of his Symphonic Variations.

Anker Blyme gives signs of being an authoritative interpreter. He has worked with Bentzon on many occasions and recorded Bentzon's two piano music with the composer. Blyme has also recorded four of the seven piano concertos. Bentzon was himself a pianistic of great technical and artistic resource and perception. He was much in demand and gave the premiere of Holmboe's Suono da Bardo - one of the foundation stones of Danish and European 20th century music. The Bentzon Toccata, contemporaneous with Suono is a virtuoso piece not so much because of the tempo rather because of its block-shouldered awkwardness. This rock-hewn angularity carries over into the Partita which, in its five movements, traces its way through varied landscapes. Over its contours is atomised jazz idiom, Schoenberg's Five Pieces (but emotionally far from the German's parataxis), as well as a notably Bachian élan. In the Fanfare Bentzon conveys an imposing majesty without hubris. The ten movement Woodcut is in much the same language with perhaps less of Schoenberg and with a playful impulse and sense of forward movement. The tempo pesante has a gruff expressivity. This sequence overall represents a miniature counterpart to Pictures From An Exhibition. Kaleisdoskop is tetchy, touched with dissonance (more so than the other pieces) - a ballade for a world all too knowing of tragedy.

This is challenging music and if you like it then also try Bentzon's massive (13 CD) piano sequence Det Temperede Klaver recorded by composer in a very substantial box set from ClassicO. By comparison with Blyme's Holmboe Danacord disc (which must be had for its Suono da Bardo - recorded for the second time by Blyme) this one speaks in a much more consistent language.

Bentzon is serious, dissonant but never evasive, perhaps somewhat influenced by Shostakovich, daring and uncompromising. He is very well served by Anker Blyme and by Danacord's technical team.

Rob Barnett

If in difficulty by all means contact the UK distributors:

Discovery Records Ltd
phone 01672 563931
fax 01672 563934

or Danacord via their website at

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