Bendix; Simonsen Concertos for Piano & Orchestra
Volume 4 of Danacord’s Danish Piano Concertos steals a march on Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series by offering works by Victor Bendix (1851-1926) and Rudolph Simonsen (1889-1947) of a startling weight and seriousness. Sadly, both composers’ romanticism was overshadowed by Nielsen’s genius and until the present magnificent issue both concertos languished in obscurity. Intriguingly, Bendix’s career was also clouded by scandal and, as he succumbed to one temptation too many, even his most ardent followers retreated in distaste.
Comparisons of Bendix with Saint-Saëns seem odd for music of such Teutonic cut and Reger-like ambitions, and to say that his Concerto ‘is blissfully rich in melody’ is pushing things a bit. Simonsen’s finale, too, seems stately and overblown after his first movement’s towering and forbidding gestures. But what is beyond doubt is the quality of Oleg Marshev’s performances, a wonder of all-Russian virtuosity on the grandest of scales. Try him at 8’50” in Simonsen’s massive cadenza and you will find it hard to imagine a more imperious authority. Danacord’s sound and balance are admirable and this is a fascinating and often compulsive issue.