Scandinavian Composers

Piano, Fortepiano and Harpsichord Music
Post Reply
Richard0428

Scandinavian Composers

Post by Richard0428 » Mon Sep 21, 2009 3:21 am

I've been learning several wonderful pieces by Scadinavian composers recently, and all three have been haunting my days (and nights) since. Piano music by most composers from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden is still relatively unknown territory for many of us, so I'd like to recommend a couple of works that I think are (if not flat out masterpieces) works of great expressive power, and deserving of far more exposure in recitals. I'm sure there's much more out there, and would welcome suggestions of other pieces to explore.

To kick off, here are four Scandinavian pieces that I can't believe I didn't get to know earlier:

Stenhammer: Nights in Late Summer, op. 33. Perhaps Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammer's greatest piano work (he wrote several piano sonatas as well), the five short pieces of Nights has an autumnal, melancholic feel that is quite extraordinary, with an atmosphere a little reminiscent of some of Grieg's late Lyric pieces. There's also an interesting preoccupation in places with the lower register of the keyboard, which adds to the dark atmosphere. The work takes a little time to work its spell, but then (in my experience at least) it's a piece of rare, autumnal beauty.
Incidentally Stenhammer also wrote some exceptionally nice orchestral music: the first symphony is a real knowckout - it's quite inexplicably been very rarely played (although recorded twice, by Neema Jarvi, on BIS and DG).
An old edition of the music is available on IMSLP at: http://imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/d ... s_Op33.pdf

Madetoja: Kuoleman Puutarha (The Garden of Death). Written, like the second symphony after the death in the Finnish Civil War, of the composer's brother, this is the best and most deeply-felt of Madetoja's piano works. Anyone familiar with the darkly beautiful second symphony will immediately recognise the harmonic world of the first of the three pieces, which is a piece of marvellous harmonic lushness coupled with a real emotional impact. The remaining two pieces of this deeply sad little suite (a valse triste and a gentle berceuse with a stern warning at the end) are lighter in texture, but just as heartfelt and moving.
IMSLP has the music: http://imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/2 ... a_Mort.pdf

Nielsen: Suite, op. 45: Nielsen's suite for piano is a lot better known than these last two pieces, although it seems much less popular than the Chaconne. Nielsen apparently regretted initially calling it the 'Lucifer' suite, but there's no doubt that some of the music is truly demonic in its intensity (beginning with the scarifying middle section of the 1st movement). A puzzling, extraordinarily wide-ranging piece, it has the added advantage of an extraordinarily exhilarating final page.
For the music, see IMSLP at: http://imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/f ... _Op.45.pdf

Rautavaara: Narcissus. Short and absolutely magical (what a wonderful fade out at the end!), post-Ravelian, Narcissus and another recent Rautavaara piano work, Passionale would each make a wonderful encore.
Narcissus is published by Fennica: http://www.fennicagehrman.fi/salescat.htm; Passionale is under Boosey and Hawkes

I'm sure there's a great deal more to explore. Looking back at these four works, I continue to be astounded by the depth and contrast between these all-too-neglected works from an area of the world still best known to pianists for producing Grieg.
Last edited by Richard0428 on Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:08 am, edited 2 times in total.

BabyGrand

Re: Scandinavian Composers

Post by BabyGrand » Mon Sep 21, 2009 4:41 am

Thank you for highlighting these works, Richard. I found recordings of the lovely Stenhammer Nights in Late Summer then got completely side tracked listening to some of his other wonderful piano and choral works. Right, back to the list....

Best wishes
Sara

User avatar
rob
Site Admin
Posts: 969
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 8:40 pm
Instruments played, if any: Singer (bass)
Music Scores: Yes
Location: London
Contact:

Re: Scandinavian Composers

Post by rob » Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:09 am

Thank you Richard for kicking off a thread that will be one of my favourites, and with such a great choice of works. Stenhammar was a terrific composer and I recommend in particular his Second Symphony (the performance by Stig Westerberg is particularly magical) if people can investigate beyond his piano music. He was a renowned conductor of course, and I've often wondered if any of his performances have ever been available.

Postscript: Incidentally, I am quite happy for such major countries to have a thread each if that is wanted, and of course, major composers like Sibelius and Nielsen certainly deserve their own threads.

Jean-Séb
Pianomaniac
Posts: 898
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 3:30 pm
Instruments played, if any: Piano
Music Scores: Yes

Re: Scandinavian Composers

Post by Jean-Séb » Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:14 am

i like the piano music by Emil Sjögren. I am not familiar with his vocal romances, although some of them have been recorded:
http://www.lamediatheque.be/med/details ... 1&secured=
Wilhem Peterson-Berger, another composer that I like, has arranged some of Sjögren Romances for piano. Here they are.
Sjögren (Peterson-Berger) Romances.pdf
Jean-Séb
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

thalbergmad
Pianophiliac
Posts: 333
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 3:03 pm
Instruments played, if any: Piano, banjo
Music Scores: Yes

Re: Scandinavian Composers

Post by thalbergmad » Sat Oct 24, 2009 11:50 am

Those who have not heard any of the Danish Romantic Piano Concerto series have not lived.

Such melody and majesty is to be found.

Listening heaven to those who are tuned into Radio Romantic.

Thal

Riodk
Pianophiliac
Posts: 257
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 1:24 pm
Instruments played, if any: Piano, but not very well :-)
Music Scores: Yes

Re: Scandinavian Composers

Post by Riodk » Sat Oct 24, 2009 1:25 pm

Agree with Thal here. Really nice stuff.

Sad that almost nothing else is recorded with these composers. Not even on the Danish Labels.

Riodk

ilu
Pianomaniac
Posts: 649
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:05 am
Instruments played, if any: Piano
Music Scores: Yes
Location: Mexico.

Re: Scandinavian Composers

Post by ilu » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:21 pm

Emil Sjögren: Theme and Variations, Op.48.
Sjogren_-_Op.48_-_Theme_&_Variations.pdf
ILU
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Quo melius Illac

User avatar
fredbucket
Site Admin
Posts: 1874
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 8:51 am
Instruments played, if any: Piano, Harpsichord, Organ, Piano Accordian, Button Accordian, Anglo and Duet Concertinas, Oboe, Cor Anglais, 6 & 12 string guitars, 5-string banjo.
Music Scores: Yes
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

Re: Scandinavian Composers

Post by fredbucket » Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:17 pm

Jean-Séb wrote:i like the piano music by Emil Sjögren.
This ought to spice up PP a bit. NMS.
Sjögren - Op. 10 Erotikon.pdf
Regards
Fred
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

WCosand
Pianophiliac
Posts: 325
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 4:01 pm
Instruments played, if any: piano
Music Scores: Yes
Location: Tempe, Arizona USA
Contact:

Collection of Erotica

Post by WCosand » Sun Oct 25, 2009 12:29 am

That scan was only number five of the opus. Here is a smaller scan from IMSLP of the entire work.
http://waltercosand.com/CosandScores/Co ... oticon.pdf

Jean-Séb
Pianomaniac
Posts: 898
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 3:30 pm
Instruments played, if any: Piano
Music Scores: Yes

Re: Scandinavian Composers

Post by Jean-Séb » Sun Oct 25, 2009 7:45 am

fredbucket wrote:
Jean-Séb wrote:i like the piano music by Emil Sjögren.
This ought to spice up PP a bit. NMS.
Sjögren - Op. 10 Erotikon.pdf
Regards
Fred
Yes, I think this is one of my old scans. Actually a very good piece, easy and impressive, and the last and best known in the series of op.10. Erotikon is a title shared with other piano pieces, for example by Jensen.
Jean-Séb

Post Reply