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Great review from LeFrak Hall, NYC

 LeFrak Concert Hall, Queens College
Niklas Sivelov, piano
Bach-Beethoven-Scriabin-Bartok

Wonders never cease! Here is a Swedish pianist (also composer) who has been completely off my radar; indeed even Google does not tell you much. And yet, this is one of the best piano recitals I have heard.

Right from the declamatory start of the Bach Partita No. 2 one knows this is a pianist of substance. Dramatic, finely spun, yet with nothing forced (an absolute no-no in Bach for me), the opening set the tone for the piece. the dance rhythms are naturally rendered, yet at times spontaneous and almost jazzy. The counterpoints and the balance between the two hands are always perfect. This is Bach playing of the highest order, and I have never heard better, live or on record.

The Beethoven Op 111 is equally awesome, opening also in a dramatic declaration. Sivelov’s excellent technique ensures there is no ugly struggle, yet the uncommonly inventive music is deeply probed and hugely satisfying. The program I have to say is highly intelligent, and his playing makes us aware of the dance and jazzy elements common to both pieces. Bravo!

After a brief intermission, Sivelov plays a group of Scriabin, Sonata-Fantasy No. 2, Deux Morceaux (Op 57 and 59), and Feuillet d’album, Op 58. which are all rendered with the utmost color; the sometimes abruptly shifting vistas always sound interesting and never drifting, as they can be in lesser hands. The last piece was stirring account of Bartok’s Sonata. As before, Sivelov’s rhythmic command is unassailable.

The pianist is a bit of an eccentric (perhaps that accounts for his obscurity). His soft shoes do not go with his tux, but one understands why he wears them, as he is prone to tap on the floor. Even more unusually, he vocalizes extensively, but the sounds are not the usual sing-along type (Glenn Gould), nor moaning (Keith Jarrett), rather hoarser and closer to hissing and forceful exhalation. These antics can be distracting, but I’d gladly put up with them when the playing is on such lofty grounds.

This was a free lunch time recital on campus; the small LeFrak Hall is beautiful and cosy, and acoustically excellent. The program is going to be repeated at Town Hall today (also free); I almost feel like going again.


Posted by doctorjohn at 11:12 AM No comments: 
Labels: Jazz, 听后感 Concert Review
19 September, 2018

Beethoven CD on Austrian Radio!

The CD was played and presented om Austrian Radio.

They wrote:

“Niklas Sivelöv, Pianist, Komponist und Professor an der Königlichen Musikakademie Kopenhagen, wird in Nordeuropa und in Fachkreisen der USA zu den bemerkenswertesten Pianisten unserer Zeit gezählt. Bislang war der Künstler auf CDs mit eigenen Werken und solchen “nordischer” Komponisten vertreten. Seine Doppel-CD mit den sechs letzten Klaviersonaten Beethovens ist mehr als nur bemerkens-, empfehlens- und hörenswert.

Der Komponist Sivelöv drängt sich als Pianist den Partituren nicht auf, sein Beethoven respektiert die Noten, ist nicht subjektiv, sondern persönlich, wenn es die Musik erfordert. Diese Sonaten werden ja oft mit “romantischem” Überschwang, extrem emotional, gespielt; nicht so Sivelöv. “Analytisch kalt” ist sein Beethoven aber nicht: Humor, Emotion und Pathos ja, Sentimentalität nein; notengerecht ist Sivelöv selbst dann, wenn ein improvisatorischer Touch zu hören ist; aus “Klangrede” wird “Klang(ge)sang”.”

Piano music by Sivelov-Toccata Classics

Peter Burwasser :

“His broad performing repertoire, from Bach to living composers, is reflected in his music for solo piano. This is not to say that Sivelöv does not write with original flair and energy, but it is probably most useful to consider this material as homage. The very choice of a set of 24 preludes is a strong nod towards Chopin and Bach, among others, and the ghosts of both of those giants appear in this music. The strongest flavor here is 20th-century Modernism, in the manner of Prokofiev or Hindemith, material that itself is often in a Neoclassical style. As a generalization, Sivelöv sounds like both a performer and composer who works in a joyous and even humorous way. This is heard in fast, loud music and a tendency to run up and down the keyboard. Some of the music is even a bit bangy, but in a fun way. One of the preludes is described in the composer’s notes as having no key signature, and he directs the pianist to use the forearms to create clusters of notes. …
He returns to a kind of Lisztian bravura in the Toccatina Feroce and finds entrancing sonorities in the Jeux de Cordes, which is played standing up so that the pianist can strike the strings of the piano by hand with a mallet. … It is a fittingly interesting and enjoyable way to conclude a delightful recital by this talented young artist.” —Fanfare Magazine, March/April 2016

Jonathan Woolf :

“The major work here is the series of 24 Preludes, written between 2010 and 2015. Consciously seeking to write a cycle in the tradition of Chopin, Scriabin and Debussy is one thing but aligning, as Sivelöv says, with the influence Bach and jazz is another entirely and presents quite a potentially potent stylistic pottage. … There’s a tangy bite to some of these preludes – a brusque little March theme, a loquacious cantilena, a barbaro that suggests Bartók, virtuosic panache, terse romanticism in miniature, the use of the forearms to play clusters in a misterioso mood, harmonic wanderings, atmospheric quasi-improvisatory passages, and even the introduction of a French Overture [No.20] that has the effect of a similar contextual moment in the Goldberg Variations. As if all this wasn’t enough we find a few Arabic-inspired phrases in the penultimate Prelude and a fittingly dramatic conclusion. The composer is his own best executant but I hope pianists pick up on this cycle or cherry-pick from it. … The first of the Due Notturni shows the dreamier side of the composer’s muse whilst its companion gravitates to active intensification of material shared between the hands. There’s a brief Toccatina Feroce that certainly lives up to its name, and two Impromptus from 2015. The first is deliberately Satie-like though soon moves away from that rather stifling atmosphere. The second is rather quiet and showing once again the quasi-improvisatory qualities that must have been gleaned from jazz. Jeux de Cordes is all dynamism and rhythm. He plays with the mallet on the strings of the piano with one hand whilst the other takes a more conventional route via the keyboard. Exciting.” –Music Web International, January 2016

Mikael Bengtsson :

“Recordings like this tend to develop into a tricky and problematic musical adventure. The risk is that the composer might get into a narrow box when interpreting his own work as there is no “second opinion” on the works, no chance to look at them from a different perspective. … But Sivelöv managed it well. He let go of the music, let it live its own life, let it be outside the box but never too much. … he finds himself in a musical borderland. He is inspired by composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Robert Schumann and Frédéric Chopin and sprinkles this with big, heaping measure of modernism although there are also clear and distinct jazz influences. Best track, or rather, the funniest one is the most innovative: Closing “Jeux de Cordes,” composed in 2015 and played while standing with a wooden mallet in one hand which used to strike the string.” –Norran, February 2016

“But what I left with was a subtler enjoyment of the way his mind has assimilated so much iconic Western classical music, which then enters his own compositions like benign ghosts. The First Prelude, for example, begins so close to Schubert’s Marche militaire that it feels like an hommage until Sivelöv’s quick, restless imagination veers off at unexpected angles. This is fascinating music that is made approachable by the composer’s lucid writing. Finally, Sivelöv plays a fine Steinway D that has been captured in flawless recorded sound.” —Fanfare, May/June 2016

Das Wohltemperierte Klavier by J.S. Bach-HVB records (Naxos)

I prefer this recording over the one by Angela Hewitt”-

Erik Wallrup OPUS magazine

 

Niklas Sivelov finds the true playfullness of Bach”

  5 stars out of 5

Martin Nystrom Dagens Nyheter

 

Sivelov elicits, with his dazzling technique, the depth of J. S. Bach

Tobias Lund  Sydsvenska Dagbladet

 

Bach with a lot of surprises

Mikael Bengtsson  Norra Västerbotten

 

Early Piano Pieces by Per Norgaard

These piano pieces are fascinating. Don’t expect a cool Nordic atmosphere‚ this music is modern, jagged often dissonant and reminiscent of Prokofiev. Two works are premiere recordings. The program ends with a dynamic Toccata written when Norgard was only 17. …All of this is superbly played by Swedish pianist Niklas Sivelöv, and the rich piano sound in these recordings made in Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Academy of Music are solid sonically. © 2017 ClassicalCDReview.com”