Stenhammar Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2 Recorded for Naxos
April 29, 2010
Between 24–28 August 2009 in the Concert Hall of the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, Sweden, Niklas Sivelöv and the Malmö Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mario Venzago recorded Wilhelm Stenhammar’s First and Second Piano Concertos for release on Naxos 8.572259.
Pianist Niklas Sivelöv notes: ‘I had a wonderful time recording the two Concertos by Wilhelm Stenhammar with the Malmö Symphonic Orchestra and Maestro Mario Venzago. The orchestra played beautifully and Mario did a great job. What a fine conductor!
‘The concertos are the most important Swedish works in the genre and I always felt they deserved a better and more widespread reputation. We worked a lot with dynamics and the character of the music, trying to see the score with new fresh eyes. I strongly feel it needed that.
‘My relation to his music is very personal and deep after playing it over 20 years. The colours, temper and the very unusual structure for example in the Second Piano Concerto are quite Swedish and show the mind of a great person. Enigmatic, humble but with a lot of passion and drama.
‘The scores are very well crafted, but tend to be a little thick at times because of all the fortissimos, especially in the orchestral parts, but also in the piano. In my opinion ‘fortissimo’ does not always mean ‘very loud and shouting’ but more that the passage should be played with significance, always singing and with the right balance. Like the colours of the special Nordic light, the blue lakes and green forests.
‘The producer Sean Lewis was with us all the time, his comments were very inspiring and accurate. We were in very good hands, indeed. Thanks!
‘I had my own favourite Steinway which has a very singing and slightly darker sound and my tuner from Berlin Thomas Hübsch kept it (‘her’ actually: the instrument is called ‘Elena’) happy for the whole session.’
Malmö Symphony Orchestra
‘The Stenhammar Piano Concerto No. 2 is the Swedish piano concerto, played regularly by Swedish orchestras,’ notes Lennart Stenkvist of the Malmö Symphony Orchestra. ‘In spite of this, there is no such thing as a ‘Stenhammar tradition’ regarding how to perform this piece,and Niklas Sivelöv does it in his most personal way. The conductor was most willing to go along with the pianist's interpretation, having no prejudices connected with Stenhammar. Rightly, Mr Venzago has claimed Stenhammar to be one of Sweden's most interesting composers having encountered his music several times while chief conductor for Stenhammar's own orchestra, The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.
‘The Piano Concerto No.1 is seldom played, but it is natural to combine both of them on a CD. When recording the Berwald Piano Concerto, also with Niklas Sivelöv as soloist [Naxos 8.553052], Naxos made an important contribution to Swedish musical life as well as to their own catalogue. The same goes for this CD.’
Niklas Sivelöv Biography & Discography
Malmö Symphony Orchestra Biography & Discography
Wilhelm Stenhammar Biography & Discography