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Track(s) taken from CDA67591/2

Chaconne, Op 32

1916/7; Tempo giusto; after Bach's Ciaconne for solo violin; FS79

Martin Roscoe (piano)
Recording details: February 2007
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Michael George
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: June 2008
Total duration: 9 minutes 24 seconds

Cover artwork: 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

Other recordings available for download

Mina Miller (piano)


'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)
Nielsen himself confessed that his Chaconne Op 32 was modelled on the famous Bach work for solo violin. In a letter to his daughter, Irmelin Eggert-Møller, Nielsen revealed: ‘You know Bach’s delightful Ciaconne for solo violin, of course. If only I could reach his shoulders with mine for piano!’ The work begins with the eight-bar ground bass theme played alone in the left hand; this provides the basis for the whole piece. The right-hand melody which then emerges in counterpoint with the bass gradually develops, as the work evolves, into an independent countersubject. At times the figuration recalls the kind of writing associated with Bach’s solo violin music. For the most part, however, the variations are entirely pianistic in conception. Increasingly florid and delicate, the Chaconne briefly reaches a moment of hymn-like calm and repose before unleashing a shatteringly violent and dramatic central climax, with harsh dissonant chords hammered in both hands above a simplified version of the bass theme in the piano’s lowest register. As this climax eventually subsides, the countersubject returns, before a crystalline coda closes the work in the major key, the final page ascending ever higher into the upper register of the keyboard. Not so much a sense of transcendence, perhaps, as a gesture of perfect balance and stability.

from notes by Daniel Grimley © 2008

Nielsen reconnut avoir modelé sa Chaconne, op. 32, sur la fameuse pièce pour violon solo de Bach. Dans une lettre adressée à sa fille, Irmelin Eggert-Møller, il déclara: «Tu connais bien sûr la charmante Ciaconne pour violon solo de Bach. Si seulement je pouvais lui arriver à l’épaule avec la mienne pour piano!» L’œuvre s’ouvre sur un thème de basse obstinée (huit mesures) qui, joué seul à la main gauche, sert de base à toute la pièce. La mélodie de la main droite, qui émerge ensuite en contrepoint avec la basse, se mue peu à peu en un contre-sujet indépendant. Parfois, la figuration évoque le type d’écriture associée à la musique pour violon solo de Bach, mais l’essentiel des variations demeure de conception entièrement pianistique. Toujours plus fleurie et délicate, cette Chaconne atteint un moment de calme hymnique et de repos avant de libérer un apogée central dramatique, extraordinairement violent, avec de durs accords dissonants martelés aux deux mains par-dessus une version simplifiée du thème de basse, dans le registre le plus grave du piano. Cet apogée finit par s’estomper et le contre-sujet revient avant qu’une coda cristalline ne close l’œuvre en majeur, la page finale allant toujours plus haut dans les aigus du clavier. Mais peut-être n’est-ce pas tant de la transcendance qu’un geste de parfait équilibre et de stabilité.

extrait des notes rédigées par Daniel Grimley © 2008
Français: Hypérion

Nielsen selbst gab zu, dass sich seine Chaconne op. 32 an Bachs berühmtem Werk für Violine solo ein Vorbild genommen hatte. In einem Brief an seine Tochter, Irmelin Eggert-Møller, offenbarte Nielsen: „Du kennst sicher Bachs herrliche Ciaconne für Violine solo. Wenn ich ihr doch nur mit meiner für Klavier annähernd das Wasser reichen könnte!“ Das Werk beginnt mit einem achttaktigen Bassthema, das nur mit der linken Hand vorgetragen wird und die Grundlage für das gesamte Stück bildet. Die sich im Kontrapunkt zum Bassthema herausschälende Melodie in der rechten Hand entwickelt sich im weiteren Verlauf des Stückes allmählich zu einem eigenständigen Gegenthema. Zuweilen erinnern die Umspielungen an die Art von Musik aus Bachs Soloviolinwerken. Meistens sind die Variationen aber völlig pianistisch empfunden. Die Chaconne wird zunehmend blumiger und delikat und erreicht kurz einen Moment hymnischer Ruhe und Gelassenheit, worauf in der Werkmitte ein erschütternd brutaler und dramatischer Höhepunkt erreicht wird, auf dem beide Hände harsche dissonante Akkorde über einer vereinfachten Version des Bassthemas im tiefsten Register des Klaviers hämmern. Wenn diese Spannung endlich nachlässt, kehrt das Gegenthema wieder zurück, bevor eine kristalline Koda das Werk in der Durtonart beschließt. Die letzte Seite steigt immer weiter in die hohen Register des Klaviers auf. Wohl weniger eine Art Transzendenz als eine Geste perfekter Balance und Stabilität.

aus dem Begleittext von Daniel Grimley © 2008
Deutsch: Elke Hockings

Other albums featuring this work

Nielsen: Complete Piano Music
CDA66231/22CDs Rights no longer controlled by Hyperion
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