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Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Rarities of Piano Music 2011
Live recordings from the Husum Festival
see end of review for details

2011 marked the quarter-century of performances from this splendid and much-admired festival near the North Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein. As befits the significance of the celebration, frequent performer Marc-André Hamelin performed in the larger Congress Centre, and a celebratory 232 page book was launched. So, all in all, it was something of a good year for Husum.
As always, the 75-minute CD that documents some of the performances contains a wealth of rare and exciting items for the questing pianophile. Håvard Gimse brings a quartet of Nordic gems starting with Grieg’s potent little Modersorg Op.52 No.1 with its deep melancholy and Lisztian asides. Alf Hurum was a delightful new find for me, one whose Miniature has a taut folkloric quality whilst Sverre Bergh’s Norwegian Dance cleverly evokes the Hardanger fiddle. Sibelius’s early Impromptu is very attractive with its rich cascades of notes, but you’d be hard pressed to tell it was Sibelius.
Each pianist brings something new, something unusual to the mix. Artur Pizarro plays Vierne’s Nocturne, possibly written in 1928, though it could date from a decade earlier, and the earlier date might make more sense given its indebtedness to Debussy and affinity with Fauré. He also plays cellist Gaspar Cassadó’s Habanera from the Four Spanish Pieces. AnatolyAlexandrov’s Scriabin-inclining Nocturne is played by Jonathan Powellas is Konstantin Eiges’s Skazka, which is very freely lyric and not really like Medtner’s pieces of the same name. I’ll leave you to read of the genesis of Strangers in the Night, played by Hamelin, in a summit conjunction of Bert Kaempfert and arranger Frédéric Meinders. Meanwhile we hear the opening movement of York Bowen’s last sonata - I assume Danny Driver played the whole thing at Husum - a richly romantic piece, as well as the same composer’s Prelude in B flat minor which is an especially exciting affair. Olga Solovieva contributes the driving Prokofiev-like Sonatina of Boris Tchaikovsky.
Piers Lane contrasts the limpid poetry of John Field’s Nocturne in E minor with Schumann’s Variations on a Nocturne by Chopin, completed by Joachim Draheim. Nadejda Vlaeva, whose disc of Bach piano transcriptions by French composers for Hyperion I hugely enjoyed, plays two pieces by Hans von Bülow. Dante’s Sonnet, in Liszt’s arrangement, is refined and elegant, and the Intermezzo scherzoso is fast and droll. This last element is picked up in programming terms by Pick-Mangiagalli’s La Danse d’Olaf (played by Roland Pöntinen) with its will o’ the wisp element. Finally Daniel Berman plays hyphenated Rachmaninoff-Wild, in honour of Earl Wild, at whose memorial concert Berman played, and the droll Valse viennoise from the pen of the celebrated accompanist Otto Schulhof.
Doubtless 2012’s edition is hatching as we speak. When a series digs out such interesting fare and goes to the trouble of commissioning well-researched booklet notes, you know you are in the safest of hands.
Jonathan Woolf 

Reviews of previous issues in this series

1987/88 2 003 2004 2008 2009 2010

Track listing & performance details

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Modersorg Op.52 No.1 (1864-68) [3:29]
Alf HURUM (1882-1972)
Miniature Op.5 No.2 (1912) [1:59]
Sverre BERGH (1915-1980)
Norwegian Dance No.2 [2:09]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Impromptu Op.5 No.5 (1893) [3:22]
Håvard Gimse(piano)
Louis VIERNE (1870-1937)
Nocturne Op.35 No.3 (1928) [7:00]
Gaspar CASSADÓ (1897-1966)
Habanera, from 4 Spanish Pieces (1920s-30s) [2:57]
Artur Pizarro(piano)
Anatoly ALEXANDROV (1888-1982)
Nocturne Op.3 No.1 (1919 version) [5:25]
Konstantin EIGES (1875-1950)
Skazka Op.12 No.2 [2:11]
Jonathan Powell (piano)
Leonid SABANEYEV (1881-1968)
Prelude Op.10 No.5 [2:17]
Bert KAEMFERT (1923-1980)- Frédéric MEINDERS (b. 1946)
Strangers in the Night [4:37]
Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
York BOWEN (1884-1961)
Sonata No.6 in B flat minor Op.160: 1. Moderato e serioso (1961) [7:44]
Prelude in B flat minor Op.102 No.22 (1950) [1:12]
Danny Driver(piano)
Boris TCHAIKOVSKY (1925-1996)
Sonatina (1946) [3:37]
Olga Solovieva(piano)
John FIELD (1782-1837)
Nocturne No.8 in E minor (H.46) (1821) [2:54]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Variations on a Nocturne by Chopin (1834) completed Joachim Draheim [4:01]
Piers Lane (piano)
Hans von BÜLOW (1830-1894)- Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Dante’s Sonnet (1865, arr Liszt, 1874) [6:16]
Hans von BÜLOW (1830-1894)
Intermezzo scherzoso (Il Carnevale di Milano) Op.21 No.9 [1:14]
Nadejda Vlaeva(piano)
Riccardo PICK-MANGIAGALLI (1882-1949)
La Danse d’Olaf Op.33 No.2 [3:30]
Roland Pöntinen(piano)
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)- Earl WILD (1915-2010)
O, Cease Thy Singing Op.4 No.4 [4:12]
Otto SCHULHOFF (1889-1958)
Valse viennoise Op.22 [2:58]
Daniel Berman (piano)