Author: sivelov

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New Beethoven review!

Latest review from Borås with the 4th concerto:A magical eveningIt was a fantastic event when Borås was visited by the piano virtuoso Niklas Sivelöv, who performs worldwide.The evening’s concerto – Beethoven’s Fourth – began with a solitary piano, careful, searching… The orchestra responded in due time with the same friendly, restrained timbre, but gained in strength.It was a magnificent introduction provided by the conductor Joachim Gustafsson and the soloist Niklas Sivelöv. The latter is an internationally renowned pianist, as well as being a composer and professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Music.This concerto is considered one of the central works in the history of piano concertos, admired for its richness of variety and nuance. It has an additional prominent feature that cannot be ignored, namely the ambition to establish an ongoing dialogue between the solo piano and the orchestra. This quality was clearly revealed in all the participants’ handling of the work.In the calmer parts, the conversation between Sivelöv and the orchestra created some incredibly beautiful music. The soft parts, however, do not last long. Suddenly, restraint is replaced by the furious pace of Sivelöv’s formidable runs across the keyboard.The remaining two movements are diametric opposites of each other. The second movement is a minor-key landscape that Sivelöv convincingly conveyed. The third movement turns from melancholy into a faster, joyous tempo, with fireworks of piano runs, variations, nuances…Niklas Sivelöv’s concert gave an unequivocal message not only about his virtuoso talent but also his ability to be sensitive to new interpretations. Not unexpectedly, this generous musician offered the kind of encore that is something of a specialty for him, namely free improvisations on the piano.BT Bo W Jonsson

AMC009 is getting praise.

AMC009 Partitas and English suites vol. 1 gets 5 stars in Sydsvenskan ! ***** “..with careful use of rhythm, dynamics and accents, he adapts the expression to the conditions that each movement, yes each phrase, provides. The characters of the Allemande, the Courant and the other baroque dances are in place, but when given the opportunity (In the Sarabandes), Sivelöv also releases  an endless longing towards a romantic spirit. Tobias Lund

Opus Magasin

Orchestral works gets nice reviews.

Four Stars: Joachim Gustafsson | Sivelöv: Sinfonie Nr. 3 „Primavera“  05.03.2021 Ohne Corona würde es die vorliegende Aufnahme nicht geben. Da die schwedischen Musiker im Frühling vergangenen Jahres Pandemie-bedingt keine öffentlichen Konzerte geben konnten, hatten sie Zeit, die Partituren ihres Landsmanns zu studieren. Die Musik gefiel ihnen so gut, dass sie beschlossen, die Werke einzuspielen. Das immerhin war erlaubt, Gott sei Dank, wie man nach Anhören des Albums sagen muss. Sivelöv, der am Musikkonservatorium in Kopenhagen lehrt, hat sich vor allem als Pianist einen Namen gemacht; seit einigen Jahren reüssiert er aber auch zunehmend als Komponist. Die hier zu hörenden Werke könnten unterschiedlicher kaum sein, gemeinsam ist ihnen jedoch ihr gleichsam nordisch-klarer Grundton und ein Faible für formale Verläufe und rhythmische Finessen. Im faszinierend-verwirrenden, regelrecht überkomplexen und dabei letztlich doch hoch spielerisch empfundenen ersten Satz („Passacaglia“) der „Sinfonietta per archi“ (2019) kommt dieser Stilzug besonders eindrücklich zum Ausdruck. Die „Primavera“ titulierte Sinfonie Nr. 3 von 2018 macht ihrem vitalen Namen alle Ehre. Bezüge zur Natur wie etwa Tierstimmen oder ein durchziehendes Gewitter sind zwar hörbar, werden aber nahtlos in die zum Einsatz kommenden Sonaten- und Variationsformen integriert. Zu einem Höhepunkt des Albums geraten die „Five Pieces for String Orchestra“ (2016), insbesondere deren „Lamento“-Satz. Auch wenn Vorbilder wie Sibelius oder Strawinsky mitunter grüßen lassen: Sivelövs hier von den „Malmöern“ hoch engagiert dargebotene Tonsprache hat ihren sehr eigenen Sound & Drive. Burkhard Schäfer Niklas Sivelöv (f.1968) stammer fra Skellefteå i Nord-Sverige, men han har også aner i Karelen sørøst i Finland. Han er mest kjent som en særdeles begavet pianist, både som solist med orkester (leserne vil kanskje huske hans fantastiske innspilling av Einar Englunds første klaverkonsert på Naxos), og som en svært uttrykksfull kammermusiker eller utøver av solokonserter. Få kjenner til at han i tillegg er en dyktig komponist, hovedsakelig i verker for eget instrument – blant annet seks klaverkonserter, hvorav tre også er utgitt på Naxos – men også fem symfonier (han arbeider på en sjette). Den tredje og fjerde er å finne på denne fascinerende platen fra Toccata. Skrevet av Guy Rickards. Oversatt fra engelsk av Hilde Holbæk-Hanssen Komponist-pianister er jo ikke noe nytt, fra Bachs sønners til egen tid, der – for å nevne noen navn – Philip Glass, Michael Finnissy og Olli Mustonen, i tillegg til Sivelöv fortsetter denne store tradisjonen. Faren for komponister som først og fremst er pianister, er at deres musikk kan bli begrenset av instrumentet, for bundet til klaviaturet. Det ser absolutt ikke ut til å være tilfellet med Sivelöv som har evnen til å tenke orkestralt, slik han viser i sine svært morsomme 5 Pieces for string orchestra (2016), herlige miniatyrer (som tidvis høres lett engelske ut) som vil pryde en hvilken som helst konsert. Sant nok, det er flere steder de stilistisk kan virke mindre originale, her og der med glimt av Stravinsky, Sjostakovitsj, til og med Ligeti, men blandingen av disse berøringspunktene til tidligere komponister er Sivelövs egen. Mer av hans egen komposisjonsstemme kommer kanskje til syne i de to symfoniene, men for å være ærlig er det bare ett av flere elementer. Symfoni nr. 3 (2018) har undertittelen Primavera (Vår) og det er en følelse av spirende vekst gjennom de tre lysfylte satsene, som spilles uten pauser. Musikken har også et noe amerikansk preg, selv om den rytmiske profilen bringer tankene til Stravinsky; Toccatas husdirigent Paul Mann, som har skrevet tekstene i CD-heftet, foreslår også «en snev av Sibelius». Verket slår meg mer som en sinfonietta enn en fullstendig symfoni, og hans neste (fra 2019) heter Sinfonietta for strings, med undertittelen Symfoni nr. 4. Det er mer mørke og skygge i denne diskursen, ikke minst i den imponerende Passacaglia i begynnelsen, som er lengre enn de to andres satsene (Choral og Scherzo) tilsammen. Fremførelsen av Malmö Operaorkester, dirigert av Joachim Gustafsson, er livlig og virtuos der det trengs, lever opp til komponistens uttrykksbehov og er full av instrumental farge. Lyden er fremragende.  

Fanfare Interview

A marvelous new Bach recital from AMC Classical, towards the c, features pianist Niklas Sivelöv. In our interview, Sivelöv talks about the recording and Bach’s unique genius and magic.Before we discuss your AMC Classical Bach recording, towards the c, I’d love to explore some of your thoughts on J. S. Bach and his music. And, given that you are renowned as a pianist and composer, I’d be most interested in your appreciation of Bach from both those disciplines. When did Bach become a part of your musical life? Do you recall the compositions you first studied, and your reaction to them?I started to form an interest in the piano around the age of 8; before that I was playing the organ as well as percussion. On the organ I was only improvising at first and making my own little tunes, since I didn’t read music properly, and I used to listen a lot to the Beatles, trying to find the right harmonies and melodies. I also enjoyed playing along on the drums to the music of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, my older sister’s favorites that came blasting out of the speakers.When I started to read music a bit better I recall one of my first pieces I studied was one of the Minuets from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, and later also the First Invention in C Major. This was love at first sight, and since then I have played Bach almost every day of my life. It’s music for both the heart and brain, as well as being very satisfying for the body. It’s both physical and metaphysical. I’m also left-handed, so I enjoyed the challenges Bach was offering. In my very early years I exclusively liked Bach and Mozart, and only gradually added Beethoven and Chopin to the list.What talents and qualities do you think an interpreter of Bach’s keyboard music must possess?Honesty of feeling and a transparent hearing. You need a pure touch and understanding of Bach as both a “vocal” and a “dancing” composer. The movement and motion are essential elements; his unique blend of styles (the German, Italian, and the French), and his enormous drive as a person and musician require a lot from the player. Since his music in general is very much of a practical nature, you need a lot of imagination for different instrumentations and settings, as the music is not in a higher degree connected and bound to a certain instrument. This “absolute music” character of Bach is inherent in all his production (well, with some exceptions).Do you have any particular favorite Bach interpreters, past or present, and what you do most admire about their artistry?I like players such as Gould, Schiff, and Edwin Fischer. They are all very different, but I think they have each a very strong connection to Bach.How did you choose the repertoire for your new recording, towards the c? Did you have any specific overarching criteria in mind?There is an overall plan to record the “complete” Bach in the next five years. This was next in line to do, and now I’m about to record all the Partitas and English Suites. After doing the WTC I felt the need for something smaller in format.Earlier, you characterized the music of Bach as “both physical and metaphysical.” This touches on Bach’s transcending what might be viewed as traditional boundaries between secular and sacred music. In my review of your HVB Records recording of Bach’s complete The Well-Tempered Clavier (Fanfare 44:1, Sept/Oct 2020), I wrote: “Bach viewed all of his compositions as offerings to God. And although the Two Books of The Well-Tempered Clavier clearly fall into the category of secular music, in the hands, heart, and mind of an exceptional artist, they communicate a profound spiritual eloquence and beauty. Niklas Sivelöv is such an artist.” I have the very same impression in listening to the Bach works you perform on towards the c.  Tell us about the title, “towards the c.” I suspect it suggests multiple meanings and possibilities. Those are very kind words, I’m much obliged. It boils basically down to this: Bach in German means Brook or Stream, and this could represent the natural flowing of the music of Bach; a piece starts and just keeps going to the end, like one long connected musical line. On the other hand, Bach’s enormous catalog of works and genius are more like the Sea or Ocean, so the title relates to music starting and ending in C (Sea … just a little word association). Especially in this original order, this could be an explanation for the title. The cover of course underlines this. I designed it. towards the c concludes with your Improvisation, “The Calm Sea.” Please tell us a bit about this work, and how it relates to the Bach that preceded it.Improvisation was always part of my music-making, and I have released several CDs consisting only of improvisation, such as the CD Exposé. On Exposé I am, for example, improvising over the First Prelude from WTC Book 1, in a similar style as in the “The Calm Sea” (based upon the Sinfonia in E Minor, BWV 793). Stylistically it’s free, music from our time, as is my composition style, but not going too far from the essence of the music—just a tender expansion of the musical sphere.What are some projects on your horizon?I’m working on several recording and composing projects, such as: Bach’s Partitas and English Suites, Beethoven’s early sonatas (partly on historical instruments), and my own Piano Concerto No. 6 and Symphonies 1 and 5. I’m also very much into the music of Scriabin, which I have recorded before and I’m now planning to record again: all 10 Sonatas.As a postscript to our interview, Niklas Sivelöv shared his poem on Bach, included in thebook, Piano Dreams: Johann Sebastian Bach.One note… The abandoned sheep looking for its herd.Two notes… The tender touch of the chosen one.Three notes… The completion. The soul awakens.Johann Sebastian…
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Sivelov Concertos

More reviews for Sivelöv Concertos!   Classical CD Choice: ”Effortlessly played by its composer, this is lively, colourful music which makes an attractive package. There are echoes of Stravinsky and other composers, but in the final analysis, Sivelov is very much his own man ” Barry Forshaw © 2020   Fanfare Magazine: ”Three highly entertaining and thoughtful concertos, brilliantly performed.”5 stars– Henry Fogel   Dagens Nyheter: ”Niklas Sivelöv förflyttar sig med ilfart kors och tvärs” 4 stars–Martin Nyström Classic Review:   “Sivelöv’s compositions might be an acquired taste for some but are certainly well-suited for the cerebral listener. His works are like a puzzle: while it may not be easy at first to approach or appreciate all the details, multiple listens will unlock a world of fascinating nuances.” Classic Review EDITORS CHOICE november 2020   Sydsvenskan: ”Niklas Sivelöv gör det bästa av både allvar av humor” 4 stars–Tobias Lund   Pizzicato (Magazine) ”mit Energie und Präzision” 4 stars –Remy Franck    

Great review of the Madison recital!

Concert Review: Niklas Sivelöv, September 18, 2022 By Paul Baker For his September 18 concert, Swedish virtuoso Niklas Sivelöv strode out in long tails and gray ascot looking not a little like a clean-shaven Beethoven. As he sat at the vintage Mason & Hamlin 1906 model AA piano I appreciated that nod to sartorial tradition. His concert of Bach, Beethoven, Schonberg, Scriabin, and his own compositions wove a musical thread that linked 400 years of musical styles. Each piece he played with physical passion, highlighting forceful movements by tapping his toes and heels, wincing, lunging, and raising his arms aloft. The man is not lost in the past. He reads his music on an iPad controlled by a floor pedal, and incorporates Scriabin and Schonberg into his own compositions. The concert program included Beethoven’s 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126, a demanding piece despite its name, with its dense harmonies and knotty rhythms, cross-hand playing, and several sustained trills that sprang airborne into flight. Compared to that harmonic and rhythmic density, J. S. Bach’s Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826 sounded translucent and sparse. But not cold, as Sivelov phrased some passages with Romantic hesitations. The left hand sometimes played counterpoint to the right, as in the two-part Inventions, then joined the right in close parallel passages. The Partita set the mood for Arnold Schoenberg’s challenging dodecaphonic Suite for Piano, Op. 25, with its six movements reflecting a Baroque suite. Its dissonant clusters and staccato rhythms suggested at times a scatter of birds, racing chipmunks, sometimes human speech. The resulting tensions were resolved by way of lyrical passages, dynamic contrasts, and motivic development. Sivelöv’s selection of Scriabin included preludes, etudes, and a mazurka. Following the Schoenberg, Scriabin sounded Romantically rich. The gentle swirls and clouds hinted at Debussy and Ravel; some phrasing and harmonies nodded to Chopin. Scriabin’s synthesis of Russian music with French Impressionism fed into his larger project of combining all art forms into an ultimate synthesis that would lead the listener/observer into states of mystic rapture. Sivelöv concluded with a selection from his composition, 24 Preludes (2010-2014). One noted the influence of jazz pianists like Cecil Taylor and Keith Jarrett, along with tokens from Schoenberg (clusters and sprinkles) and Beethoven (extended trills, dramatic pauses) and (!) Jerry Lee Lewis (swipes across the entire keyboard and heavy forearm clusters). A lengthy standing ovation inspired an encore, a wistful reading of a Swedish folk song, whose pastel lyricism recalled Debussy by way of pianist Bill Evans. Kudos to Sivelöv for an untiring virtuosic performance, and for programming such challenging works by Schoenberg, which the audience clearly enjoyed. How privileged we are to witness such talent. Paul Baker is the host of “Listen Adventurously,” a program of contemporary and 20th-Century classical music, streaming Mondays 5am to 8am at www.wortfm.org and over the air at 89.9 FM, Madison.

WTC by Bach received wonderful review in Fanfare Magazine.

BACH The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 and 2 • Niklas Sivelöv (pn) • HVB 1501 (4 CDs: 246:32) It is no trifling thing for a keyboard artist to perform and record the 48, both books of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier in their entirety. There’s more to it than conquering the technical difficulties, which are formidable in themselves. A sense of awe must fill the soul of an artist as he or she stands before a musical Olympus. The commitment requires not just every fiber of physical strength and energy the artist is capable of marshaling, but a dedication to the belief that in the struggle and perseverance to reach the summit lies the triumph of the human spirit. The beginning of this review is its end: Niklas Sivelöv is such an artist. The rest is filler. The genesis of Bach’s WTC is well inscribed in the annals of music history. In 1722, Bach completed compiling a collection of 24 pairs of preludes and fugues, and two by two they came, like the animals to Noah’s ark, the pairs ascending, half-step by half-step, until every major and minor key was accounted for and the circle was closed. That became Book 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier. A full 20 years would pass before Bach boarded his Noah’s ark a second time to ply the same waters again in 1742. And from that second voyage he brought home Book 2 of the Well-Tempered Clavier. All in all, 24 pairs of preludes and fugues times two, for a total of 48. There are some things we know about these two ventures and some things we don’t. We know that Bach didn’t compose all of the preludes and fugues at once, even knowing at the time he composed some of them that in a pinch they could be salvaged for a higher mission. It’s like that TV commercial in which a discarded plastic bottle is stepped on, kicked around, and run over, until an environmentally conscious soul picks it up and puts it in a recycle bin. And the next thing you know, the lonely, abused bottle is part of a new park bench at the seashore, cooing, “It’s where I always wanted to be.” The theory goes, if you’ve already written a prelude in D Major sometime in the past, and now you need a prelude in that key to go hand-in-hand with a fugue in D Major, well, just repurpose the extant prelude and make it part of the park bench. And that’s exactly what Bach did with a number of the preludes and fugues, several of which he recycled from the Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach of 1720. The next thing we know for a fact is that the Well-Tempered Clavier was, to no small degree, a science experiment. In Bach’s day—indeed even earlier—and throughout the remainder of 18th century and into the first decades of the 19th century, music theorists, mathematicians, composers, and performing musicians occupied themselves with the problem of keyboard tuning. This is a very complex subject, and not one I’m qualified to address in any depth. In a nutshell, various methods for tuning keyboard instruments were in vogue at the time, none of which could accommodate playing a sequence of pieces in every key without stopping along the way to retune the instrument. Certain pitches would sound jarringly out of tune in one key or another, and enharmonic equivalence—i.e., the ability of a C♯ to function as a D♭, for example—which modulation from one key to another often depends on, would be difficult if not impossible. Enter the brilliant idea of “tempered tuning.” Adjust certain pitches on the keyboard from “true,” bending them slightly one way or another in relation to each other, and you might—just might—be able to practice your scales in every one of the 24 major and minor keys without having to retune your instrument or your ears. As with all good ideas, there were copycats and takeoffs. By the time Bach got around to compiling his Well-Tempered Clavier, there wasn’t just one tempered tuning system to choose from; there were a number of them. And one of the things we don’t know with any certainty—though there’s much speculation—is which of those systems Bach chose for tuning his harpsichord in the belief that it was the one most likely to work for the chromatic progression through the keys he had in mind. Something that is important to make clear here is that “well” temperament is not “equal” temperament, the modern tuning system we’ve lived with in an uneasy peace for the last 200 years. “Well” suggests “sort of,” “more or less,” or “approximate,” as in “Are you well?” “Yes, but I could be better.” Equal temperament, to steal an analogy, kills the healthy chicken to make soup for the sick one. It was a compromise that threw every pitch slightly out of tune in order to equalize the half-step intervals within the octave and across the keyboard. Mathematically, C♯ and D♭ are not the same pitches; there’s some almost imperceptible vibrational difference between them, something that players of non-keyboard instruments are aware of. But on the keyboard, they are the same; they share the same little piece of black real estate. Violinists who have been taught to bend C♯s up and D♭s down complain that they’re forced to play out of tune in order to be in tune with the piano. To them I say, “Vibrato, my friends. Like ketchup, it covers a multitude of culinary disasters.” One other thing we don’t know, but that I’m going to take a stab at answering, is why Bach did it all over again 20 years later. My surmise is that in those 20 years tuning systems changed and improved, and Bach may have wanted to try out one of the newer “cures” on the market. Or, he may have just thought it was a good way for students to learn their major and minor scales in exercises that were somewhat more elaborate and more technically advanced than those in Book 1. All of this is relevant…
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New review for AMC007!