Daniel Grimwood performs piano works by Henselt

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COMPOSERS: Henselt
LABELS: Edition Peters
ALBUM TITLE: Henselt
WORKS: Piano Works: Etudes, Op. 2 – selection; Impromptus, etc
PERFORMER: Daniel Grimwood (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: EPS 005

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Born in 1814, the Bavarian composer Adolph Henselt (later ‘von’ Henselt) is in many ways the missing link of Romantic piano music. A pupil of Mozart’s student Hummel, he went on to teach the Russian pianist Zverev, whose students included Rachmaninov. His piano music, too, makes crucial connections as the bel canto era encounters the ‘golden age’ of virtuosity. Daniel Grimwood’s rather magnificent recording opens with a roller-coaster razzle-dazzle of the ‘Concert variations’ on a theme from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. Anyone who loves Liszt and Godowsky is in for a treat.

Twinkling through a selection of waltzes, nocturnes, impromptus and the powerful Ballade Op. 31, Grimwood brings to the works such limpidity of tone and gentle, nonchalant expression that you could imagine his playing to be effortless, despite the fiendish nature of Henselt’s demands. Besides the technical excellence, it is the atmospheres he creates that set this disc apart, bringing a touch of real class to music that deserves, yet rarely receives, such loving attention. Sound quality is close and clear, and Grimwood is credited as his own recording editor. The disc is from the Edition Peters label, in which the branching-out music publisher showcases performers from its own artists’ management department, here succeeding to splendid effect.

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Jessica Duchen