Norwegian Imperatives

Lucid accounts of quasi-modernist Norwegian works for piano solo

Author: 
David Fanning

Norwegian Imperatives

  • (4) Klavierstücke, Nachtstücke
  • (4) Klavierstücke, Valse noble
  • (4) Klavierstücke, Lied ohne Worte
  • (4) Klavierstücke, Gigue
  • Intermezzo
  • Sonata for Piano No. 2, 'Patética'
  • Sonata for Piano
  • (7) Imperatives, Seek
  • (7) Imperatives, Push
  • (7) Imperatives, Sink
  • (7) Imperatives, Spin
  • (7) Imperatives, Stab
  • (7) Imperatives, Lean
  • (7) Imperatives, Quit

A chain of teacher-pupil relationships links the four composers in Håkon Austbø’s recital of quasi-modernist Norwegian piano music. As in his symphonies, Fartein Valen’s Four Pieces and Intermezzo poke around in the ashes left behind by the Second Viennese atonal conflagration – not without a certain impressive, disconsolate integrity, it may be said. Klaus Egge was evidently a more extrovert spirit, and his Patética Sonata – by some distance the most immediately impressive music on the disc – has something of the craggy quality of Copland’s Piano Variations. Less distinctive, or so it seems to me, is the sub-Messiaenic world of Finn Mortensen’s Sonata, while Rolf Wallin’s Seven Imperatives leave still less impression of a distinctive artistic personality at work.

As with everything I have heard him play, Austbø is a model of lucidity, teasing out poetry from between the arid stones in this austere yet not uninteresting repertoire. His booklet-note is correspondingly clear-sighted and Aurora’s recording quality is clear yet atmospheric.

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