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Scutolo, 'The Marvel of Marvels' (1912) by Henry Brokman-Knudsen (1868-1933)
Musée de la Ville de Paris, Musée du Petit-Palais, France / Lauros / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67591/2
Recording details: June 2007
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Michael George
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: June 2008
Total duration: 15 minutes 15 seconds

'These new recordings are sonically the best yet. Roscoe is famed for his touch and his playing's delicacy and finesse is evident throughout' (Gramophone)

'Apart from Grieg, no Scandinavian composer has written for the piano with more individuality and insight than Nielsen … Martin Roscoe is right inside this music and guides us through its marvels with great subtlety and authority. His is the most eloquent account since the pioneering set by Arne Skjøld Rasmussen. Hyperion gives him vivid and natural recorded sound and there are outstanding notes by Daniel Grimley' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The piano music of Carl Nielsen is notable not only for its striking emotional power and radicalism but also for its transparency—for the writing is always unmistakably Nielsen … the album as a whole is a treasure-chest; it presents an entirely new slant for those not acquainted with Nielsen's music and broadens the field of vision significantly for those who are … this deserves to become a most conspicuous recording, and Hyperion's usual excellence in achieving a full-bodied, crystal-clear sound continues boldly forward' (International Record Review)

'The Symphonic Suite, the Chaconne, the magnificent Theme and Variations … are powerful, poetic, original in both idea and structure, widely varied in mood, impressively organic and as important in their way as any of Nielsens' remarkable symphonies. Martin Roscoe's technique withstands everything that the composer throws at it. He obviously belives in every note, as well he might' (The Sunday Times)

'Martin Roscoe demonstrates throughout this revealing double CD set [that Nielsen's piano music] is a canon of work that desperately needs attention … fantastic playing of compelling authority by one of Britain's finest pianists. A wonderful discovery' (The Herald)

Tema med variationer 'Theme and Variations', Op 40
composer
1917; FS81

Theme: Andante  [0'57]

Other recordings available for download
Mina Miller (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Theme and Variations Op 40, which Nielsen composed only a couple of months after finishing the Chaconne, follows a similar formal and expressive trajectory: a broad, asymmetrical arch which begins with a sense of relative repose before growing and reaching an anguished, dissonant climax, and then draws rapidly away towards a more balanced conclusion. The theme itself is a characteristically original conceit which exemplifies, in miniature, the principle of structural modulation in Nielsen’s music that Robert Simpson called ‘progressive tonality’—the process of shifting from one tonic (or home key) towards another across the progress of a work. Here, the theme begins in B minor, but Nielsen swiftly exploits the enharmonic transformation of G sharp (A flat) as a means of exploring new harmonic areas, and the theme eventually closes in G minor. The first variation then begins by punning on the structural status of F sharp as leading note (in G minor) and dominant (in B). The theme’s open harmonic structure drives the variations that follow, which grow in intensity much like the variations in the Chaconne. Variation 11 is a spiky ‘Capriccioso’, while Nielsen subtitles Variation 13 ‘Ostinato’, a number whose obstinate repeated figuration ultimately generates the dissonant climax of the work in Variation 15. From here, the piece subsides rapidly. Nielsen described the closing pages as ‘the wild response of a man who fights with his back to an iceberg and finally, as though drunk [ubbrioso] and exhausted by the conflict staggers away’, like a character gradually leaving the stage, bowed but ultimately undefeated—a state of being (and resilience) to which Nielsen himself could relate, following one of the most turbulent periods in his life.

from notes by Daniel Grimley © 2008


Other albums featuring this work
'Nielsen: Complete Piano Music' (CDA66231/2)
Nielsen: Complete Piano Music
CDA66231/2  2CDs Rights no longer controlled by Hyperion  

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