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Svend Erik TARP(1908-1994) Piano Works
Theme (Carillon) with variations op. 43 (1945) [10:30]
Suite (1927/1929) [10:02]
Sonatina op. 48, No. 1 (1947) [6:09]
Sonatina op. 48, No. 2 (Fantasietta) (1947) [4:41]
Sonatina op. 48, No. 3 (1947) [8:20]
Three Improvisations op. 21 (1934) [6:11]
Sonata op. 60 (1956) [12:39]
Tonya Lemoh (piano)
rec. Concert Hall, Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, Esbjerg,
Denmark, 26-30 June 2010. DDD
DACAPO 8.226053 [58:32]
Svend Erik Tarp is one of Denmark's foremost 20th century composers
still awaiting proper discovery by the music-loving public.
The works on this disc are from Tarp's earlier years, and none
is quintessentially representative of his fairly large corpus
- his mainly post-war orchestral works are much more significant.
The CD blurb on the back cover claims that Tarp was "at the
height of his career" in 1956, the year he wrote the Sonata,
but there were still many key works to come, even thirty years
later. Three of his major compositions, in fact - the Te
Deum, Piano Concerto in C and the Seventh Symphony
- appeared on the last disc published by Dacapo, or indeed any
other label, dedicated to Tarp's music - way back in 1992 (DCCD
Major works or not, these are all indisputably appealing pieces
on a smaller scale, beautifully played by Australian pianist
Tonya Lemoh, now based in Denmark, in her first recording for
Dacapo. Tarp's music is instantly likeable without being superficial,
like that of his fellow Scandinavian Grieg, whose imaginative,
melodic piano miniatures are often called to mind, or to a lesser
degree like that of Ravel or de Falla, whom Tarp also occasionally
resembles, as in the Three Improvisations. Even the slow
movement of the later, condensed Sonata is still quite
Griegian in its sonorities, although this otherwise lively work
is more reminiscent in general of Granados.
Sound quality is very good, although the piano action is sometimes
a little on the noisy side. The CD case is made of card and
the booklet is housed in a slot that will, alas, not last for
ever. The booklet itself, however, is excellent: informative,
well-written and well-presented: everything pretty much as it
should be. The only slight quibble is that the notes sometimes
tend towards overstatement - to describe the final section of
the wistful Theme with Variations as having "fierce intensity
and immense dissonance" is to give the wrong impression: there
is nothing here that Chopin could not have come up with, and
perhaps did in a parallel universe. It is also surprising to
read that, for all its delights, the Theme with Variations
"was perhaps his most important work for the piano" - even discounting
the Piano Concerto and comparing only solo works, the
Three Improvisations and the Sonata are more profound.
The CD could certainly have been more generous in length, but
on the whole this is a quality artefact that all but recommends
And a further review:-
Svend Erik Tarp, born in Thisted, Denmark, studied music at
the University of Copenhagen and from 1930 to 1932 at the Royal
Danish Academy of Music. His teachers were Knud Jeppesen (music
theory) and Rudolph Simonsen (piano). Later he continued his
studies in Germany, Austria and Holland. He worked with KODA
promoting the performance rights of Danish composers and also
as musical adviser at Danish National Radio (1956-62). The radio
company played its part in introducing me to Tarp’s orchestral
music. It was through their broadcasts and a friend in Denmark
that I had the privilege of hearing some of Tarp’s symphonies:
No. 1 Sinfonia divertente (1945) (Ole Schmidt/DR Symphony
Orchestra), No. 3 Quasi una Fantasia (1958) (Sonderjyllands
Symphony Orchestra/Carl Von Garaguly), No. 5 (1976) (Aalborg
Symphony Orchestra/ Jens Schröder), No. 6 (1977) (DR Symphony
Orchestra/John Frandsen), No. 7 Galaxy 1981 (Odense BO/
Tamas Vetö) and No. 8 (1989) (DR Symphony Orchestra/Leif
The Theme (carillon) with Variations dates from the German
occupation. The innocence of the theme is rarely lost across
the six variations. Miniature glittering dissonances appear
as do some more muscular ones in the final variant. There is
something here of Le Tombeau de Couperin, the outdoor
Moeran and the indoor Warlock.
The much earlier four movement Suite is a piece of neo-Baroque
extravagance with a strong romantic aspect. Its Intermezzo defies
expectations with a tenderly gentle melody touched in by Lemoh
with grave beauty. It’s very much of the twentieth
century; by no means a slavish antique facsimile.
The three 1945 Sonatinas are by turns glitteringly athletic
(3, I and III), happily steeped in extroversion, delightfully
moonlit (No. 1 II) and gravely thoughtful (3, II).
The Three Improvisations move from cut-glass splendour
with some hints of Kodaly to a dignified subtle Lento
in the similitude of a Dowland pavane to a motoric Allegro
molto vivace with Bartókian crunches and clangour.
The Sonata op. 60 is the latest work here. Its first
movement is quite rigidly patterned and neo-classical while,
as ever, the Lento is a gentle and fragile effusion.
Tarp has a gift for pensive moments in time. This is contrasted
with a finale that has the vigour of Gershwin melded with a
sunny morning demeanour.
There is some talk of Stravinsky's influence but I heard nothing
taking us anywhere near close to that often desiccated neo-classicism.
All these moods are most adeptly articulated by Lemoh (see
interview) who has already made a name for herself with
the piano music of Joseph Marx (review).
There's a Tarp Piano Concerto (1944) so I hope that Lemoh’s
interest continues and that she will feel drawn back to this
composer. The results here bode well for a project further combining
Tarp with Lemoh's technical acumen and artistic sensitivity
and Dacapo's staunch commitment to excavating the riches of
Denmark's neglected music legacy.
I do urge you to try this most intriguing and musically valuable
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