Piano Concertos

NEOS 11311CD NEOS 11311CD

This disc contains recordings of pianist Ortwin Stürmer's performances of two piano concertos: Bengt Hambræus's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1991-1992), performed with the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg conducted by Israel Yinon; and Claude Lenners's "Phaeton" Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra (1999), performed with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken conducted by Gilbert Amy. Bengt Hambræus had a major impact especially on both Swedish and Canadian musical culture through his diverse activities, as an organist, educator, broadcaster, composer, and musicologist. Between 1944 and 1948 he studied organ and in 1947 he began his academic studies at Uppsala University, graduating with degrees in musicology, art history, and religious studies in 1950 and a PhD in musicology in 1956. Between 1957 and 1972 he worked at the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation. In 1972 he was appointed Professor of Composition at McGill University, Montréal, a position he held until his retirement in 1995. Since his emigration to Canada the term "world music" has appeared in Hambræus's comments regarding his own music. In 1990, an event took place on the Kanesatake reservation by Oka, outside of Montréal, that had an impact on the way his Piano Concerto was conceived and composed. The members of the Kanehsatake Mohawks had a standoff with federal and provincial governments, triggered by the town of Oka's attempt to enlarge its golf course. The town did not know, or ignored, that the land they wanted to use was part of the Mohawks' old burial ground and had a particular importance for the community. For Hambræus the violent scenes shown on television were appalling and he took the side of the Mohawk community. His openly political stance on this issue made it into his own comments on the Piano Concerto, emphasizing their ritualistic properties. Claude Lenners's "Phaeton" piano concerto shares both the rhythmic intensities and the moral concerns of Hambræus's work, although the perspective is different. In Greek mythology, Phaethon, the son of Helios, the Sun God, convinced his father to let him drive the sun chariot for one day. But the horses did not obey Phaethon, and came far too close to the earth. Zeus intervened and struck Phaeton dead with a thunderbolt.