Friday, January 7, 2011

Scheja plays Dag Wiren's Ironical Miniatures Op. 19

When I was at Iowa in the early 1970's, a young Swedish pianist named Staffan Scheja came to give a concert, and he gave an informal "lunch" concert--I think in the student union--to which the public was invited for free. Scheja was very much the prim and proper young prodigy then (photo below) with his dark mane of long hair, and his sharp profile. Ironically, I had just a little earlier purchased a recording by him, Swedish Romantic Piano Music, since I had no familiarity with Scandinavian music, outside of Grieg and Sibelius. I loved that recording, especially the Op. 19 of Dag Wiren, entitled Ironical Miniatures.

Scheja spent some years in the States, before eventually returning to Stockholm, where he teaches at the Royal College of Music, and runs a chamber music festival. Below is a photo taken many years later.

Outside of these miniatures, I know nothing of Wiren [1905-1986], though he was apparently prolific and well-regarded. I think I can hear a little Prokofiev in these pieces. They're modern and sprightly, but also very pure and translucent in the Scandinavian fashion.


J said...

Griegmusick's pleasant for 20 minutes or so. About 5 more minutes of pleasantness than his meister Wagner offers, and 10 than Sibelius. :]

Germans and their northern cousins could have used a bit more instruction from...Fred Chopin. Not that Chopin's pianistic Ahht always worked...but nearly 50% of the time: mo' than most composers can say. One of FC's tastiest etudes smokes like 2 hours of Brahmsliszthoven, not to say poprockjazz nearly in its entirety (and the later frenchmen, Debussy, etc were not Chopin's equal either IMHE). Chopin knew his Bach pretty well too supposedly.

Curtis Faville said...

Try Sibelius's Second Symphony.

If that doesn't convince you, nothing will.

J said...

Sib. has a few nice moments maybe, but .......mucho zucker IMHE.Disney romantic. I think i have that CD with the Sophie whatever playing her fiddle. Eh.

Stravinsky. Or Prokofiev were not quite as sweet. Prokofiev was an authentic musical genius--the Romeo and Juliet ballet, maybe overexposed-- but pure f-ing beauty and no Disney there.

J said...

the youtube you link to has some interesting muzack on the sidebar....such as

Horowitz playing Scriabin's Vers la Flamme--supposedly Count Scriabin wrote it after reading about entropy and...the heat death of the universe. Horowitz the person was ...fairly creepy from reports but his Scriabin playing quite amazing...Count Scriabin was quite possibly the greatest musician who ever lived--at least his late rather difficult musick (tho of course Scriabin was a son of aristocrat, pals with the czar, bourgeois, etc. Regardless....few if any musicians have caught up with him--one reason the Russians like Prok.and Strav. and others started using strings and reeds, etc--because they were not able to compete with Scriabin and Rach.-- (tho Rach hardly the innovator).

J said...

that said I actually prefer like Morricone or goodjazz to about any classical music. But Scriabin's sort of the pinnacle for deeep interstellar sound--the end of tonality in a sense