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Netzel • S-D Sandström • Andrea Tarrodi: Piano Concertos

Peter Friis Johansson (piano); Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Ryan Bancroft (BIS)

Netzel • S-D Sandström • Andrea Tarrodi
Netzel: Piano Concerto in E minor; S-D Sandström: Pieces for Piano and Orchestra; Andrea Tarrodi: Piano Concerto No. 1, ‘Stellar Clouds’
Peter Friis Johansson (piano); Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Ryan Bancroft
BIS BIS-2576 (CD/SACD)  79:50 mins


Three rare or new works for piano and orchestra, one fantastic pianist and a devoted performance from orchestra and conductor make this a recording out of the ordinary. The link is their soloist: Peter Friis Johansson has completed Laura Netzel’s turn-of-the century concerto and commissioned the works by Sandström and Tarrodi, premiering all of them in the last five years or so. Beyond this, they are all very different, and each has its rewards and also its drawbacks.

Netzel’s concerto is an intense, high-Romantic, Lisztian work with a currency of grand rhetorical gestures and occasional moments of searching lyricism. While the levels of musical inspiration and focus may not be quite strong enough to bring it rushing to a concert hall near you soon, it is an intriguing listen and its performers make the best possible case for it.

Sandström’s Five Pieces for Piano and Orchestra, is a thornier matter since this abstract piece is pluralistic in terms of style. It alternates a rewarding and original tonal idiom with incongruous passages of splashy atonality that continue for just long enough to overturn any sense of orientation, but not long enough to prove themselves fully worthwhile (the piano is trying to wrest back harmony from the orchestra, according to the background info). Both this and Andrea Tarrodi’s Stellar Clouds make reference to journeys of heavenly ascension; and Tarrodi’s is architecturally strong, with grand sculptural shapes and finely hewn effects of timbre and texture. Listeners must decide for themselves whether the astronomical titles are helpful.


Jessica Duchen