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Dacapo - The National Music Anthology of Denmark

Format:  CD

Catalogue Number:  8.226122

Barcode:  636943612224

Release month:  Feb 2017

Period:  Romantic


NIELS W. GADE: Piano Works

27 February 2017  David's Review Corner
David Denton

Niels Gade, trained as a violinist, earned a living in orchestras before moving to conducting and composing to become Denmark’s leading 19th century musician. He was also a highly regarded organist, and it is said that in orchestral rehearsals he would sit at the piano to explain how he wanted phrases to be played. That would explain his sizeable output for keyboard, where he was obviously well versed in writing for the instrument. That is particularly pertinent to the Sonata on which he worked for almost fifteen years before its completion in 1854. Dedicated to Liszt it calls for the power and intensity of the same named work composed by its dedicatee. In four movements, and lasting almost twenty-five minutes, it was the starting point of his large-scale symphonic works, and, as with Liszt, it requires both stamina and technical brilliance from the performer. The third movement scherzo is an engaging showpiece before the turbulent finale that calls for a powerful left hand. Why pianists ignore the work is really unforgivable. The three Aquarellen are groups of five very short tone-pictures that are both aimed at testing the skills of the amateur, and for the concert pianist to show the audience how they should sound. In either mode they fall most pleasingly on the ear. Volkstanze (Folk Dances) were written as Fantasy Pieces, happy by nature and content, while the Aquarel and Chanson Danoise are over almost as soon as they begin. Two pages of the booklet comment on this disc using the new definitive editions of Gade’s music, the performances from the Armenian-born, Marianna Shirinyan, being played with an obvious affection for the music and have wonderful lucid fingers. The sound did take some time for my ears to adjust, but this too is of exceptional clarity.

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