WORKS: Piano Sonata in G minor; Three Fantasies, Op. 11; Late-Summer Nights; Three Small Piano Pieces; Impromptu in G flat
PERFORMER: Niklas Sivelöv (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553730
Swede Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927) studied in Berlin with Heinrich Barth, the teacher of Artur Rubinstein. As a pianist he specialised in chamber music and Beethoven (the complete sonatas), yet had the capacity, ability and manner to tackle concertos as massive as the Brahms First Piano Concerto (which he introduced to Sweden in 1892).
Lucia Negro has recorded all the piano works, very finely, for BIS. The present selection – from the early, albeit slightly unfocused G minor Sonata (1890) to Late-Summer Nights (completed in 1914), a personally felt cycle of ‘peaceful atmosphere, enchanted song, fantasies, shadow play and the disquiet of the soul’ – offers a useful cross-section. In best high-Romantic tradition, there’s plenty of swirling Sturm und Drang passion here (first Fantasy, the Schumannesque rondo of the Sonata), reflection and tenderness, too (the Sonata’s Romanza, the first of the Small Piano Pieces, a magical little Albumblatt), plus the odd crib (Brahms’s then new C sharp minor Intermezzo in the third Fantasy, Schubert’s F minor Moment Musical in the last of Late-Summer Nights).
Niklas Sivelöv is a physically exertive player, much given to climactic pedal/platform thumping. But he clearly has feeling for this music, and his technique is commanding. Though maybe a touch distant and though the piano is slightly edgy, the recording balance is very palatable – one of the better results to come out of St George’s, Brandon Hill. Ates Orga