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Two new releases with Beethoven Concertos 2&3 and Sonatas opus 2

This is the second volume in a series of three recordings from AMC with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Bogotá and Joachim Gustafsson conducting, which will be the first recording made in Latin America of all of Beethoven’s concertos for piano and orchestra, including the piano version of the violin concerto. On this recording the wonderful and dramatic Egmont Overture is also included.The 24-year-old Beethoven likely gave the first performance of the sparkling Second Concerto at a concert of Prince Lobkowitz, where his playing “touched everybody”. The young musician had the honour of performing the concerto later that same year with the esteemed Haydn conducting. It is a charming and delightful work, with a beautiful slow movement that must have shown off Beethoven’s noted cantabile style of playing, as well as a light-hearted, comic finale.The cadenza in the first movement is by Niklas Sivelöv.The Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor, Op.37 was generally thought to have been composed in 1800, although the year of its composition has recently been revised to 1803. It was first performed on 5 April of that year, with the composer as soloist, in a concert where the Second Symphony and the oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives were also premiered. The concerto was published in 1804, and was dedicated to Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia. When the pianist–composer Beethoven moved to Vienna to study with Haydn, he confined his appearances for the first three years to soirees for the aristocracy, until he was satisfied he would make a spectacular debut both as virtuoso pianist and composer. At last, in 1795, he burst into Viennese musical life with his Piano Trios, Op.1 and his three Piano Sonatas, Op.2, the first works he considered worthy of an opus number. His shrewd judgement paid off: the young piano tiger and his compositions made an enormous impression.The Op.2 piano sonatas, the first of 32, are grounded in the Viennese Classical tradition of Mozart and Haydn, but already display Beethoven’s original voice. They move beyond eighteenth-century conventions in their key relationships, unusual modulations, dynamic contrasts, dramatic gestures and quasi-orchestral sweep. The first sonata is sometimes known as the ‘Little Appassionata’ for its key signature and the passionate Sturm und Drang mood of its outer movements. The second sonata, wide-ranging in its emotional content, moves further away from the eighteenth century in its plentiful unusual modulations, and the thirdsonata is virtuosic and grand in scale, unmistakably pointing towardsRomanticism.These three sonatas, which range over the entire keyboard, often with hands widely spaced, seem to strain at the confines of the fortepiano Beethoven owned at the time. Indeed the demands Beethoven placed on keyboard instruments with his 32 piano sonatas led to its substantial development already in his lifetime. At the end of his life Beethoven owned two much more advanced pianos, aBroadwood and a Graf, and in this recording Niklas Sivelöv plays a modern replica of a Graf piano.

Beethoven 2nd and 3rd Concerti from Bogota!

Live recording from October  2023. The Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra and Joachim Gustafsson.

Two successful recitals in Copenhagen and Gothenburg.

Niklas played recently two recitals in Solbjerg Kirke in Copenhagen and in Annedalskyrkan i Götbeborg. Both events were very well attended and had great atmosphere. In Gothenburg it was an inauguration concert of the newly renovated Steinway B.  A performance which generated standing ovations! Music by Bach, Beethoven, Stenhammar and Skrjabin.

Schumann Sonatas for piano!

Re-issue of the recording from 2011 of the wonderful Sonatas for piano by Robert Schumann! Niklas Sivelöv: Schumann: Piano Sonatas AMC/Amchara Classsical 4 stars  The piano professor Niklas Sivelöv has compared the music soloist to an enormous antenna which with sound waves seeks its receiver. Maybe you could also talk about a sonorous ebb and flow. At least when we are talking about his interpretations of Robert Schumanns three piano sonatas from the 1830’s which deals with the manic-depressive musical tendencies of the 200-years jubilee. Schumanns romantic piano music prefers to follow the logic of poetry and reflects the composers alter egos Florestan (a lively character) and Eusebius (a dreamer). Schizofrenic moods which Sivelöv controls on the limit between restlessness and reflection. Especially when the time signature in the second sonata builds up to a lightning speed with the first movement in evanescently and thoughtful haste. Best track: The finale of sonata no. 3 and no. 1. Dagens Nyheter – Johanna Paulsson “Niklas Sivelöv Masters The Poetic Logic “ 5 stars Niklas Sivelöv has specialised in Schumann and hails him with strong interpretations of the three sonatas from the 1830’s. Pure piano romance closer to Beethoven than Chopin – and closest to the composer himself in the splintered flow of ideas and melodies which was Schumann’s sorcerer’s brew. A classic analyst of form fdoes not find convincing regularity in Schumann. Here it is the poetic logic in the centre: the playing in contrasts, the abrupt change of feelings. Sivelöv masters this. The tones cascade forward or rest in meditating depths. A fairy tale, a bath in beauty, new views and pleasure awaits the alert listener. Sydsvenskan- Carlhåkan Larsén The three piano sonatas become great raids on temperamentsforever changing. Powerful outbursts with long stretched lines are succeeded by simple miniatures to change into delicate chor or straightforward manifestations.Sivelov is obviously never afraid of drawing  the knife fully through,and the consistent thinking makes the cd a small master piece amidstthe grand portrayal of feelings Henrik Friis, Politiken 5 stars–schumann-piano-sonatas

Like Liszt, Busoni or Rachmanninov..

Reiview from Records International Sivelöv is an established pianist of international standing, who has enjoyed great success in an impressively wide range of repertoire (12T048, 12N051, and a great deal of other music besides). He is also an unusual example of the travelling virtuoso who devotes himself to composition when not on the concert platform, a phenomenon more common in the 19th and early 20th centuries than nowadays – one thinks of Liszt, Busoni, Rachmaninov et al. To date he has produced seven symphonies, five concerti for his own instrument, and a sizeable body of solo and chamber music (11R084, 11W008). His idiom is tonal and neo-romantic, and entirely accessible. His symphonies – all written in the past decade – are more than worthy additions to the canon of Scandinavian and Nordic compositions of which an astonishing abundance has emerged from the late years of the nineteenth century onward. The three-movement First Symphony, subtitled “Nordico” was written in 2013. As the title suggests, the music reflects the natural landscape of the north, and the influence of Sibelius is often to be felt, though not overwhelmingly so. The dramatic first movement is full of energy and momentum from the opening bars, contrasting granite and tempest, tempered by the lightly scored play of light on cascading mountain streams and the brooding density of the northern forests. The central Adagio begins as glacial nature music, but soon takes on an unexpected menacing aspect, with the ominous, heavy tread of a funeral march. A more active central section seems to hint at some mythical drama played out against the chill landscape. A tormented scream and an incongruous collapse of the music abruptly halts the music’s flow, and when it resumes it is as a resumption of the minatory march. The movement ends ambiguously, unresolved. The finale, Allegro molto, is an unruly, dancing celebration, suddenly evoking the insistent rhythmic alacrity, nervous syncopations and obsessive propulsion of the neoclassical Stravinsky of Œdipus and the Symphony in 3 Movements. Throughout the symphony the level orchestral virtuosity is at a consistently high level, the orchestra enhanced with a large percussion section, including an important piano part. The Fifth Symphony, from 2020, is in two roughly equal tableaux or panels, similar in structure and form. Subtitled Concerto for Orchestra, it abounds in virtuosic writing for the sections and soloists of the standard-sized orchestra, with an even more prominent rôle for the piano. The first movement begins with a sombre Adagio infused with a Mahlerian Einsame im Herbst melancholy. While the basic pulse remains slow, the music gradually gathers momentum with more active material full of shifting harmonic ambiguity reminiscent of Busoni’s Two Studies for Doktor Faust. This haunted, tenebrous, unsettled movement unexpectedly takes a turn toward a lighter, jazz-inflected mood in its closing stages. The second movement offers a different perspective on the same material – the composer had originally conceived the work as a single span, in fact – though here the Adagio opening is more Sibelian in texture, and rather than gradually increasing in activity the arrival of the ensuing allegro is a jolting surprise, and the final dance is more neo-classical than jazzily energised. Like the first movement, the work ends with a subdued epilogue. Malmö Opera Orchestra, Joachim Gustafsson.

Royal Orders of Chivalry

Niklas Sivelöv is very happy and honoured to be appointed a Knight of the Order of Dannebrog by Her Majesty The Queen for his work with Classical Musicin Denmark as a performer and teacher.

Beethoven in Bogota!

Standing ovations at the Fabio Lozano Auditorium for Beethoven Concertos 2 & 3 with The Philharmonic Orchestra in Bogota and Maestro Gustafsson! It was recorded for TV and also recorded during the previous week for AMC/Amchara Classical as the 2nd volyme of 4 with the complete Concertos by Beethoven.

Recent CD Reviews

Sivelov Symphonies no 1&5 Robert McQuistonClassical Lost and Found, June 2023 Swedish conductor Joachim Gustafsson and the Malmö Opera Orchestra…deliver superb accounts of both selections. In that regard, the MalOpO musicians deserve a big round of applause for the many, demanding, solo-instrumental passages they play so well, particularly in the later symphony. That said, both works will leave listeners with a strong desire to hear Sivelöv’s other five works in this genre. © 2023 Classical Lost and Found Burkhard SchäferFono Forum March 2023  (4,5 Stars)Überhaupt is der Schwede ein Meister der Orkestrierung und Klangfarben auch in seiner “Concerto for Orchestra” betitelten Sinfonie Nr. 5 aus dem Jahr 2020. Das Werk versteht sich als ein Diptychon, dessen zwei Sätze nich konstrastieren, sondern ihr musikalisches Material wechselseitig spiegeln Stephen GreenbankMusicWeb International, January 2023 The recorded sound is exemplary, allowing all the instrumental details to be fully savoured. The Malmö Opera Orchestra under the inspirational direction of Joachim Gustafsson offer enthusiastic and convincing performances… Sivelöv’s music has an appealing freshness and makes for a compelling listen. © 2023 MusicWeb International Stephen PageLark Reviews, December 2022 Further exciting contemporary Swedish sounds are to be found on this CD. The two symphonies here by Sivelöv date from 2013 and 2020. Both make great use of variety of timbre, tonality and rhythm. There is a stark, stripped back feel to the opening of the 5th Symphony which contrasts hugely with some of the more energetic writing of other movements here. © 2022 Lark Reviews Barry ForshawClassical CD Choice, November 2022 …it…rewards close attention, particularly performances as persuasive as they are here. Niklas Sivelöv has proved a prolific symphonist over the past ten years or so, with six completed symphonies and a seventh currently in progress. © 2022 Classical CD Choice Thomas MichelsenPolitiken November 2022 Sivelövs musik kendte jeg ikke. Nu har jeg opdaget den, og han er en skøn symfoniker, der kan skrive bredt, mørkt og manende for orkester. En ensom orientalsk stemme dukker op i den nordiske kontekst, for verden i dag er globaliseret. Men det dystre og kompakte er helt tydeligt musikkens dna, og for mig at høre er denne musik et indre anliggende. Sjæl og psyke er fortættet til intense noder. Efter et skrig, som kunne være malet af Edvard Munch, graver symfonien sig ind i sig selv – meget nordisk, personligt og privat forekommer det mig – inden Sivelöv med inspiration fra gode gamle Stravinsky lader musikken slutte dansende, med neoklassicistiske rytmiske træk i en stampende katastrofeopspændt og måske lige lovlig lang, men tydeligvis så meget desto mere ægte følt finaleafslutning. Beethoven ConcertosCamilla LundbergOpus MagasinTransatlantic TitanNiklas Sivelov is a wide-ranging and creative pianist who is also successful as a composer.I like his vigilant playing for example in the finale of the 4th concertoIt would be nice if this project could develop into a more extensive collaboration between Latin America and Scandinavia Emilio Sanmiguel El SemanaThe performance of the pianist Sivelöv is excellent, managing to blend the piano with the orchestra. And Gustafsson knows exactly what he does; energetic enough in turning the Bogota Philharmonics into an international phenomenon.”  Bach WTCClassics TodayJed DistlerCollectors familiar with the subjective, Romantically tinged 5-CD WTC cycles by Roger Woodward and Andrei Vieru will find Lepauw’s likeminded conceptions more consistently thought out and sustained, as well as sonically superior. Consider Lepauw a fascinating antipode to the straightforward and stylistically grounded Schiff, Hewitt, Ashkenazy, and Koroliov references, with the compelling individuality of Niklas Sivelöv’s extraordinary “48” splitting the difference.  Sivelov Piano ConcertosHenry FogelFanfare, January 2021 All three concertos should provide pleasure to just about any listener. They are clearly modern works, but they are also strongly tied to tradition. Sivelöv manages to find a balance between the serious and the entertaining. As a successful pianist whose playing has been very positively reviewed in Fanfare by many critics, Sivelöv clearly wrote these concertos for himself to perform, which he does with gusto and technique to spare. Both conductors and ensembles provide strong partnerships. Let none of those small caveats discourage you from exploring Sivelöv’s highly engaging concertos. © 2021 Fanfare Read complete review Steve Arloff  – MusicWeb International, October 2020 Niklas Sivelöv proves himself not just as a composer of huge creative talent but as a convincing exponent of his own music with pianistic gifts that are equal to his compositional ability. He is given great support from both conductors and musicians on a disc that is a revelatory introduction (for me at least) to a composer of considerable interest. © 2020 MusicWeb International Azusa Ueno-  The Classic Review, October 2020 The “Concerto Classico” for Piano and Orchestra (1998) is his earliest large ensemble work, and reflects a composer in the process of integrating various influences. The first movement is somewhat reminiscent of Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments with its punctuated phrasing and focus on wind instruments groups throughout. Jazz harmonies and rhythms drive the piece as a whole, giving it a tangible and sweeping energy. The second movement is of a very different nature: thanks to fine playing from the Malmö’s Symphony Orchestra’s strings, it displays Sivelöv’s penchant for refined dissonances. The orchestral opening is captivating, with the resonant cello and basses creating an expansiveness reminiscent of Barber’s Adagio for Strings. © 2020 The Classic Review Barry Forshaw Classical CD Choice, July 2020 Effortlessly played by its composer, this is lively, colourful music which makes an attractive (if undemanding) package. There are echoes of Stravinsky and other composers, but in the final analysis, Sivelov is very much his own man. © 2020 Classical CD Choice ”Här finns en ostyrig påhittighet och vilja att utforska musikens briljanta möjligheter, särskilt beträffande rytmisk komplexitet och tvära kast.” Jörgen Lundmark, Opus “Förutom att vara en flitig konsertpianist är Niklas Sivelöv också en kompositör vars pianokonserter är kul och drömmande på samma gång; en musik som svänger medan den tänker.” Martin Nyström, Sivelöv Piano music “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…
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Spring 2023

The Spring of 2023 was very busy with the premiere of the 6th Concerto Earth Rites by Sivelov and the Concerto by Edward  Smaldone, Prendendo Fuoco. The Sivelov concerto was premiered and commissioned by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Joshua Weilerstein . It was recorded and will be released in 2024 on Naxos. Prendendo Fuoco was premiered in New York at the Miller Theatre with the Orchestra of the League of Composers and Smaldone conducting. It will be recorded in April 2024 with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Niklas performed as well several solo recitals during the Spring in Västerås, Riga, Tianjin, Port Washington and Birkerod featuring music by Bach, Beethoven, Abrahamsen, Nørgård, Eliasson, Saariaho a.o. In April Niklas was appointed new Guest Professor at the Tianjin Conservatory of Middle School in China.

New review of the Symphonies 1 & 5

MusicWeb International Niklas Sivelöv (b.1968)Symphony No. 1 (2013)Symphony No. 5 (2020)Malmö Opera Orchestra/Joachim Gustafssonrec. 2021, Malmö, SwedenNAXOS 8.574508 [59] Niklas Sivelöv is a Swedish concert pianist, composer and teacher. Born in Skellefteå in Northern Sweden, his ancestors hail from Karelia and Northern Finland. He’s recorded a substantial discography as a pianist, and his own compositions have registered a notable presence on both the Toccata and Naxos labels. MusicWeb colleagues have championed his cause with some positive reviews of his orchestral works (review), piano concertos (review) and solo piano music (review). In the last ten years Sivelöv the composer has been on a roll, having completed six symphonies, with a seventh in the pipeline. His symphonic journey began in 2013 following the birth of his son in July of that year. The First Symphony is in three movements. It bears the title ‘Nordico’, and draws its inspiration from the northern climes of Sweden, where he was brought up. Echoes of Sibelius are also present. The first movement makes a confident entry with epic force. The booklet notes refer to its “cinematic” character with its propulsive energy alternating with more spacious and expressive moments. The vivid orchestral colours are a consistently thrilling experience to behold. The central movement is a slow, sombre and elegiac affair. It was originally titled ‘Ode to Edward Munch”. Like the painter’s famous painting ‘The Scream’, the music is restive, brooding and edgy as it sleepwalks through alien and otherworldly landscapes. At the movement’s climax there’s an empty fermata bar, allowing the orchestral players their own “silent scream”. The composer originally titled the final movement “Firedance of the Witches”. Rhythmic tussles and syncopations influenced by the music of Miles Davis register with dramatic and startling impact. The orchestration showcases an impressive colour range. As we draw near to the close, ostinato accompaniment helps ratchet up the tension and the curtain finally closes abruptly to a brilliant coruscating whirlwind of terror. The Fifth Symphony, described as a two-movement “dyptych”, dates from 2020. Rather than contrasting movements, the two “panels” are cut from the same cloth; the composer originally intended a single movement work. There’s a role for the piano in the scheme. The first movement is a theme and variations, with each orchestral instrument being given its moment in the sun. The lovely second movement derives from a jazz ballad Sivelöv wrote about one of his cats called Ringo, who crept silently around the house. Everything in this movement is kept under wraps, both quiet and restrained. The Fifth Symphony, as a whole, is a far cry from No. 1. There’s less drama, less intensity and less flamboyance. The recorded sound is exemplary, allowing all the instrumental detail to be fully savoured. The Malmö Opera Orchestra under the inspirational direction of Joachim Gustafsson offer enthusiastic and convincing performances. Paul Mann’s annotations provide an interesting analysis of the works played, but it’s a pity the booklet gives no information about the composer. Neither are there any track timings. Yet, all told, Sivelöv’s music has an appealing freshness and makes for a compelling listen. Stephen Greenbank