Collage - Erling Blöndal bengtsson Records
A Tribute to ... The Early Danish Recordings 1955-59 DACOCD 727
A Tribute to ... The Live Icelandic Recordings 1973-79 DACOCD 724
A Tribute to ... The Live Icelandic Recordings, Vol. 2 2002-03 DACOCD 737
A Tribute to ... The Live Icelandic Recordings, Vol. 3 1970-80 DACOCD 740
André Jolivet - Suite en concert pour violoncello DACOCD 740
Antonin Dvoraák - Cello Concerto in B minor op. 104 DACOCD 413
Aram Khatchaturian - Sonata-Fantasy for solo cello DACOCD 425
Bagatelles for Cello and Guitar DACOCD 335
Beethoven: Complete Works for Cello and Piano DACOCD 333-334
Camille Saint-Saëns - Cello concerto in A minor DACOCD 422
Claude Debussy - Sonata for Violoncello and Piano D Minor (1915) DACOCD 548
Claude Debussy - Scherzo for Violoncello and Piano C Major DACOCD 548
Claude Debussy - Intermezzo for Violoncello and Piano C Minor DACOCD 548
Dmitri Kabalevsky - Cello Concerto No. 1 op. 49 DACOCD 740
Édouard Lalo - Cello concerto in D minor DACOCD 422
Edvard Grieg - Sonata for Violoncello and Piano in A minor op. 36 DACOCD 644
Eugene Ysa˙e - Sonata for Cello solo, op. 28 DACOCD 372
Felix Mendelssohn - Cello Sonata in D major op. 58 DACOCD 740
Frederic Chopin - Sonata for Violoncello and Piano in G minor op. 65 DACOCD 644
Hans Werner Henze - Serenade for solo cello DACOCD 425
Herman D. Koppel - »Ternio«, op. 53 b DACOCD 565-566
Herman D. Koppel - Sonata for cello and piano, op. 62 DACOCD 565-566
Herman D. Koppel - Suite for Solo Cello, op. 86 DACOCD 565-566
Jan Maegaard - Concerto for Cello and Orchestra op. 98 DACOCD 415
Johann Sebastian Bach: 6 Solo Suites DACOCD 331-332
Johannes Brahms - Cello sonatas DACOCD 516
Joseph Haydn - Cello concerto in D major DACOCD 416 , DACOCD 703-704
Joseph Haydn - Cello concerto in C major DACOCD 416
Luigi Boccherini - Cello Concerto in B flat major (original version) DACOCD 416
Luigi Dallapiccola - Ciaccona, Intermezzo Adagio for solo cello DACOCD 425
Max Reger - 3 Suites for Cello solo op. 131c DACOCD 372
Niels Viggo Bentzon: Cello Concerto No. 1, Op 106 DACOCD 727
Paul Hindemith - Sonata op. 25 for solo cello DACOCD 425
Pyotr Tchaikovsky - Var. on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra DACOCD 422
Robert Schumann - Cello Concerto in A minor op. 129 DACOCD 413
Samuel Barber: Cello Concerto in A minor, Op 22 DACOCD 727
Samuel Barber - Sonata for Violoncello and Piano C Minor op. 6 (1932) DACOCD 548
Sergei Prokofiev - Sonata op. 119 (1949) DACOCD 548
Siegfried Salomon: Cello Concerto in D minor, Op 34 DACOCD 727
The Nordic Cello DACOCD 554
Zoltán Kodály - Sonata DACOCD 425
Works by Piatti and Niels Viggo Bentzon DACOCD 478

GUINNESS Classical 1000

The Top 1000 Recordings Of All Time selected the recording of Kodály's Cello Sonata on DACOCD 425 as the best ever. The new book from GUINNESS also places the Beethoven Cello Sonatas (DACOCD 333-334) among the 5 best of all recordings ever made.

When at the age of three Erling Blöndal Bengtsson was given a violin by his father, his immediate instinct was to position it between his knees. However much his father protested, he could not be persuaded to hold it under his chin. The boy was adamant, and just six months later he gave his first public recital, on a viola with an end-pin attached to it.

Seven years later he was allowed to make his debut with an orchestra in Copenhagen's Tivoli Concert Hall where, in the summer of 1992, Erling Blöndal Bengtsson was celebrated on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, the fiftieth anniversary of his debut, and as the greatest living Danish cellist - if not one of the finest anywhere, with his bnght, slender tone, at once elegantly nimble and glowing with concentration and pained recognition.

"The born cellist" is no hackneyed cliche when applied to Blöndal Bengtsson. He found it all so easy that he could make do with one hour's practice a day as a child - and indeed no more was asked of him by his violinist father and exceptionally musical mother, an Icelandic woman straight out of the ancient sagas.

In 1948, just sixteen years old, Erling Blöndal Bengtsson travelled to Philadelphia to take up studies with the pre-eminent cellist of the time, the Russianborn Gregor Piatigorsky. Just one year later he became Piatigorsky's assistant at the Curtis Institute of Music, and the year after that he had succeeded him as teacher at the Institute.

He stayed in the United States for five years before letting himself be tempted back to a teaching job at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. He was appointed professor at the age of 29, and has during the course of a career spanning almost 40 years become a role-model for a whole family of young cellists playing in Denmark and abroad, while at the same time tending his own soloist career.

Between 1958 and 1978 he was also attached to the Swedish State Radio School of Music in Stockholm; he was a professor at the Musikhochschule in Cologne from 1978 to 1982, and continues regularly to give masterclasses at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, at Aldeburgh, Sion, and in Scandinavia.

In 1990 he moved back to the United States to take up a professorship at one of North Amenca's leading centres of music, The University of Michigan School of Music in Ann Arbor.

Blöndal Bengtsson's repertoire is just as all-encompassing as his teaching activities. Much of it has been recorded; the complete Bach solo suites and the Beethoven sonatas, solo works by Reger and Ysaye, cello concertos by Boccherini, Haydn, Schumann, Dvorák, Lalo, Saint-Saens and Tchaikovsky, but also much contemporary music. His insatiable curiosity about modern music has resulted in the first performance of a number of Scandinavian cello concertos, many of which are also dedicated to him, including those of Niels Viggo Bentzon, Vagn Holmboe, Herman D. Koppel, Jan Maegaard and Jon Nordal. He has played the Danish premieres of concertos by Britten, Barber, Khatchaturian, Delius, Lutoslawski and Walton, and indeed the latter two have themselves conducted performances with Blöndal Bengtsson as soloist.

For a number of years he has been playing 60 - 70 concerts a year, in Europe, the United States, and the former Soviet Union, and he has appeared with all the main Scandinavian orchestras and numerous foreign ones, including the Royal Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) Philharmonic, and the Salzburg Mozarteum, with conductors such as Sir Malcolm Sargent, Pierre Monteux, Nicolai Malko, Hans Schmidt-lsserstedt, Paavo Berglund, Sixten Ehrling and Yuri Temirkanov.

And Blöndal Bengtsson's audiences value him. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and has been awarded the Danish "Discophile" prize of 1958 and the Hyam Morrison Medal for Cello in Gold in 1957, among many other prizes. He is also First Knight of the Danish Order of Dannebrog, and Commander of the Icelandic Order of Falcon.

Lotte Bichel

English translation: Per Sommerschield


Composer, conductor and instrumentalist, Paul Hindemith was one of this century's most accomplished musicians. He was recognised as being arguably the finest violist of his generation, giving the first performance of many works, including William Walton's Viola Concerto. Yet he was said to be able to play all the instruments of the orchestra with similar skill and he certainly bestowed upon posterity solo works for the majonty of them, from the violin and harp to the bassoon, trumpet and cor anglais. With Bach as his model, he composed unaccompanied solo sonatas for the violin, viola and the cello.

Hindemith was an anti-Romantic, and the label often appended to his music of "Neue Sachlichkeit" and "Gebrauchsmusik" (utility music) has prejudiced generations of musicians and in particular listeners against him. Yet at his best, his pungent, Iyrical and endlessly resourceful music occupies an important place on the history of 20th century composition. The Sonata for solo cello is a fascinating example of his craft: strongly melodic and virtuosic, the instrument often conjures up the illusion of being an entire string quartet rather than four strings alone. The rhythmic drive so characteristic of the composer gives the music a distinct dance flavour.

Dallapiccola belongs to the group of Italian 20th century composers who tned to break down the dominance of opera in their country's musical culture. Ironically his best known work was destined to be an opera itself (The Prisoner), but orchestral and vocal (non-operatic) works dominate his output. The first Italian composer to adopt 12-tone methods, Dallapiccola's work for solo cello opens with an almost baroque-like gravitas, whereas the Interrnezzo offers some respite before the works reverts to the opening's seriousness in the concluding Adagio. The work is dedicated to the Spanish cellist Gaspar Cassado, who recounts how it was written in 1945 under the influence of the composer's experience of the War.

Henze has made an international reputation as a composer for the theatre, contriving to renew the genre in ways which are often as startlingly innovative and they are disarmingly simple. He is prolific in the extreme, uniquely so for a contemporary composer, having to date composed seven symphonies, solo concerti, chamber works and much vocal music. The Serenade for solo cello is an early work which, despite its deceptively light mood, is profoundly original. Stylistically it acknowledges 18th century dance forms before saluting the Tango of our own century.

Khatchaturian objected strongly to being called a Russian composer and his Armenian roots are certainly not to be doubted when one hears his music. It is colourful, not always profound, but brilliantly accomplished in the nationalist tradition of the St. Petersburg school. His three symphonies are now seldom heard, whilst his solo concerti are still occasionally programmed (the Piano Concerto once enjoyed a popularity greater than that of Tchaikovsky!) Erling Blöndal Bengtsson gave the Scandinavian premiere of the Cello Concerto in 1949. Khachaturian composed two other works for cello: the Concert Rhapsody and the late Sonata-Fantasy recorded here. Towards the end of his life he complained bitterly that his muse had deserted him and that he could no longer compose. The SonataFantasy shows little sign of this however: it is an idiomatic and inspired piece which, despite a more contemporary tonal idiom than that of many of his earlier works, still betrays the composer's ethnic origins.

Kodŕly and Bartňk where close friends and colleagues who shared a burning passion for Hungarian folk music. They often toured together in the Hungarian provinces collecting folk-songs, and both were to rely heavily on ethnic music as the source of their own compositional inspiration. Indeed with Kodåly it is often hard to distinguish between the original folk-component and his own art, so complete is his identification with the form. And this applies in all musical genres, from the well-known Dances of Calŕnta, the opera Hŕry Jŕnos and his countless educational pieces, to his choral works and the chamber music of his quartets and sonatas.

With the Sonata for Solo Cello Kodŕly blessed the instrument with one of its most endunng works. The cello's resources are constantly envestigated and rediscovered, every aspect is exploited to an expressive end, making very considerable demands on the performer's stamina and technique. Familiar devices such as the second movement's tremolos, double-stopping and grace notes conjure up new sound worlds, and the finale's sul ponticello section is unique in effect. Kodŕly also exploited scordatura in the sonata, tuning the two lower strings from G and C respectively F-sharp and B, thus considerably extending the instrument's tonal, dynamic and expressive range.

© Mogens Wenzel Andreasen

Erling Blöndal Bengtsson Homepage