When a composer plays his mentor

When a composer plays his mentor


norman lebrecht

April 07, 2015

It’s not all about knitting…

nielsen knitting


The English composer John McCabe, who died in February aged 75, was a formidable pianist who won fame in the mid-1970s by recording the complete sonatas of Joseph Haydn for Decca. Around the same time, less noticed, he performed the piano music of a Danish composer who had fallen out of fashion. In his 150th anniversary year, the piano music of Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) has been recovered from analogue tapes and revived for a very different era.

This precious retrieval is my Album of the Week on sinfinimusic.com. Click here.



  • Hilary says:

    Nice review of the Nielsen disc but not entirely true that Sibelius abandoned solo piano music as soon as he achieved success in orchestral music. 1929 is the date for the last of Sibelius’s piano works. As with Nielsen, it’s an overlooked area of his output. In the case of Sibelius, it may not have helped, that it acquired the worst possible of labels ‘salon music’.

  • Joel V. says:

    I suggest listening to the piano opus Op 114 by Sibelius from 1929. In 1928 Sibelius had started writing the 8th symphony. Some of Sibelius’ last compositions were indeed written for the piano. It is a pity that Op 114 was published for the first time in the 1970s.

    Also “Rakkaalle Ainolle (To My Beloved Aino)” JS 161 was written in 1931. This work is unpublished, but recorded, and offers a glimpse to the late style when the composer was battling with his 8th Symphony. During this period Sibelius also wrote an organ piece Op 111b for the funeral of Gallen-Kallela – according to Aino Sibelius they are based on material from the 8th Symphony.

    Worth having a check. In his late years Sibelius was moving towards the unknown…..