Thursday, February 13, 2014

Niels Viggo Bentzon: Chamber Concerto

Niels Viggo Bentzon, 1986
Sometimes called "the wild man of Danish music," Niels Viggo Bentzon (1919-2000) was certainly wildly prolific - 664 opus numbers!  Of these, I've heard about one percent, and have found this Chamber Concerto of 1948 to be particularly vital.  Essentially a triple piano concerto with chamber accompaniment (the scoring, besides the pianos, is for clarinet, bassoon, two trumpets, double bass, timpani, snare drum and triangle), it features two fast movements filled with Hindemithian neo-Baroque bustle flanking a long slow movement which may owe more to Bartók with its arabesques and arpeggios; however, with its steady, procession-like tread I'm reminded more of Falla's harpsichord concerto.  Maybe the overall structure of the concerto and its chamber scoring reinforces this impression.  In any case, the piece is great fun, and it's played here by the composer with two pianistic colleagues, and the group to whom it was dedicated:

Bentzon: Chamber Concerto for 11 Instruments, Op. 52
Niels Viggo Bentzon, Georg Vásárhelyi and Herman D. Koppel, pianos
Copenhagen Collegium Musicum conducted by Lavard Friisholm
Recorded February 16, 1951
HMV Z 7036 and 7037, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 41.27 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 27.32 MB)

A word about Bentzon's two fellow pianists on this recording: Georg Vásárhelyi (1912-2002) was a Hungarian who studied with Bartók and Edwin Fischer before settling in Denmark, where he taught generations of piano students, including Bentzon.  Herman D. Koppel (1908-1998) was a Copenhagen-born pianist and composer, who, as a young man, had performed Carl Nielsen's piano music in the presence of the composer.


  1. Alternate link:

    FLAC -
    MP3 -

  2. This sounds a little like Hindemith to me.
    Thanks for this unaccustomed fare.
    I think this is significant music..

  3. Very interesting, as usual! Thanks for sharing, Bryan!

  4. A composer completely new to me - many thanks. Bryan!