Scarlatti / Mendelsson: Sonatas
"No self-respecting piano connoisseur should let this truly distinctive release slip away." ClassicToday.com
Has it ever occurred to you that there might be a connection between the piano styles of Domenico Scarlatti and Felix Mendelssohn? Sveinung Bjelland makes a very strong case for a style gallant in his solo debut on CD – performed with all the delicacy and élan you could imagine.
Although this is Sveinung Bjelland’s first release with solo piano music, he has already received critical acclaim for his concerto and chamber recordings, most recently for a release together with clarinettist Fredrik Fors in ‘Les nouveaux musiciens’ series on Harmonia Mundi. Bjelland performs as soloist with all the Norwegian orchestras, coming up this season is Chopin’s E minor with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Mozart Double Concerto with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Fresh and characteristic
Sveinung Bjelland is one of those remarkable pianists with the ability to leave his audible watermark in every thing he plays – a warm, singing and sustained brilliance – refreshingly recognisable in today’s jungle of pianists. As a performer he radiates that profound confidence found also with other soloists on the highest level, the kind of confidence that makes an audience follow wherever the musical journey is going.
- Much as I admire Murray Perahia's extraordinary poise and refined fingerwork in the Mendelssohn sonata, Bjelland digs a little deeper. MUSICWEB-INTERNATIONAL.COM
- What an interesting idea to bookend Mendelssohn’s delightful yet seldom heard E major Op. 6 sonata with short groups of Scarlatti sonatas. More importantly, it’s an idea that transpires into blissful reality, thanks to pianist Sveinung Bjelland’s cultivated, imaginative, and poetic artistry. In the E major K. 531 Scarlatti opener, Bjelland stirs up a degree of danger and heat that wildly contrasts to Vladimir Horowitz’s limpidly nuanced 1962 recording. Notice also how Bjelland deftly varies his touch with each phrase repetition in the A major K. 533, yet never gives the impression of playing things differently for the sake of being different.
Bjelland sustains his slow tempo in the famous B minor K. 87 by his careful spacing of ritardandos and cadence points and by the fullness with which he projects the music’s contrapuntal strands. And I can’t get enough of Bjelland’s gorgeous cantabiles and pointed dissonances in his similarly drawn out F minor K. 481 sonata. Bjelland makes the E major K. 380 into something grander and more orchestral than usual, stressing the military-like rhythms with concentrated deliberation and giving inner voices their due.
Much as I admire Murray Perahia’s extraordinary poise and refined fingerwork in the Mendelssohn sonata, Bjelland digs a little deeper. His heightened linear clarity and wider dynamic range underscores the first movement’s kinship with the opening of Beethoven’s Op. 101 sonata, and the way he leans into the first note of the downward diminished chord arpeggios (about 2:26 into the movement) is sheer magic. If at first the Menuetto seems overly clipped and prim, repeated hearings reveal a grander design at work, abetted by Bjelland’s subtle nuances and voicings. Bjelland’s centered rhythm and intelligent musicianship also reaps rewards in the finale, although Karl Ulrich Schnabel’s more angular, vehement interpretation still outdistances all competition. No self-respecting piano connoisseur should let this truly distinctive release slip away. CLASSICSTODAY.COM, Jed Distler Artistic Quality: 10 Sound Quality: 10