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CD Review

Danish Piano Concertos

Volume III

  • Otto Malling: Piano Concerto in C minor, Op. 43 (c. 1890)
  • Ludvig Schytte: Piano Concerto in C Sharp minor, Op. 28 (c. 1884)
  • Siegfried Salomon: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 (1947)
Oleg Marshev, piano
Aalborg Symphony Orchestra/Matthias Aeschlbacher
Danacord DACOCD597 76m DDD
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Danacord's pioneering survey of Danish Romantic Piano Concertos is in its third instalment, and what fine music it contains. The three composers represented on this CD are certainly not on the forefront of music history but these concertos are certainly well crafted with plenty of good tunes and some inspiring moments as well.

Otto Malling's concerto in C minor, Op. 43 dates from 1890 when the composer was 42. Apart from a symphony, this piece is considered to be Malling's greatest orchestral work. The form is clear and concise, characterized by moderation and overall control. Its elegance also reminds one of Grieg's A minor concerto. When Malling died in 1915, this concerto was still his most popular composition.

Ludvig Schytte (1848-1909) was born in the same year as Malling and trained as a chemist before he took his plunge into music. He composed his C Sharp minor work round about 1884 and its grand virtuosic style is considered by the soloist on this recording as the most technically difficult of the three. As in the Chopin concertos, the piano takes pride of place with the orchestra taking only a subsidiary role. If one is expecting a piece that is excellently constructed, full of melody and invention then no disappointment will be forthcoming.

Schytte's Op. 28 is a truly wonderful piece full of romantic passion tinged with the occasional nostalgic shade. Siegfried Salomon (1885-1962) is largely remembered for his 1926 opera 'Leonora Christina' but he was extremely active as a composer, particularly in the orchestral and chamber music fields. His style is late romantic which might be the reason behind his relative neglect. Salomon's Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 was written in 1947 and is very much in the Rachmaninoff mould. It was premièred in the same year but did not raise any eyebrows and has not been performed since. Still, the concerto does have its virtues most notably some catchy tunes and a lush orchestral language together with the opportunity for the soloist to display virtuosity.

The Baku-born Oleg Marshev is an enthusiastic advocate of these rare works and his fresh yet vigorous readings should restore these concertos back to some sort of popularity they deserve. Matthias Aeschlbacher and the Aalborg Symphony lend admirable support full of patriotic fervour. Excellent documentation and engineering make this CD an attractive buy.

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech