The title of this recording is inspired by the painter and poet William Blake’s anthology of poems, Songs of Innocence and of Experience. It is a title that lends itself well to the pieces presented here, exploring as they do themes of light and darkness, life and death, angelic purity, and demonic passion.
These works are among those most frequently performed by pianists and they have each long been a central part of my own repertoire. They are, however, compositions rich enough in their expression to be able to carry a steady stream of new interpretations; interpretations that together constitute a continually changing tradition.
TracklistPlease note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Total time: 01:15:21
Horus, Merging Technologies
Pyramix, Merging Technologies
Jorn Simenstad and Morten Lindberg
Fond for utøvende kunstnere, The Norwegian Academy of Music and Fond for lyd og bilde
Genelec One Loudspeakers in Mastering Room
|Original Recording Format
Steinway Concert Grand Piano – Model D
Sofienberg Church, Norway in November 2019
Pyramix, Merging Technologies
|Recording Type & Bit Rate
|September 8, 2020
Music Criticism Norway (Muscikkritikk)
It is with some skepticism that I begin to listen to Kristian Ofstad Lindberg’s album, Of Innocence and Experience, a release with three key works from the piano literature. Why do them again? It will turn out that I find good reasons – eventually.
When I hear Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor, P. 178, it strikes me that Norway is an incredibly rich country also culturally. Imagine that there are pianists like Lindberg, who after all are not among the most famous names in Norway. But he is in the top tier, and only the very best pianists have the technique to survive a replay of this work.
However, Lindberg also delivers a good in-depth reading of the score. I like the sound of the lyrical passages, how he plays out some Chopin ‘ bel canto improvisations, the beauty of the finger play, and the weight of the octaves. Not least, I like his phrase structure, harmonious listening, and variations in timbre that make me constantly nod in recognition of the score that swirls around in my inner ear.
With this intelligent reading, he lets the work unfold in its grandeur. I have nothing to complain about the interpretation, other than that I wonder if he holds back a little in some places where I think he could go forward. However, I still respect his choices, and I had half an hour of a loving reunion with one of all pianists’ best friends, namely Franz Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor, p.178.
At the same time, I am in the process of saying thank you for the entourage after one listen. The greatest legends, living and dead, have recorded it, and Martha Argerich has climbed the highest on my parnassus.
But even though the historical recordings have somewhat clearer colors and sounds than Lindberg’s, he has been able to show what a fabulous pianist he is. Festivals and concert organizers who hear this album should immediately engage him. Hearing the Liszt Sonata live at this level would be a rare gift.
With his mastery of details and technique, it is striking that Lindberg builds up two great epic stories in Beethoven and Liszt. And after hearing Beethoven, a need grows to go back and see if there was anything, I overheard in listening to the Liszt sonata. Kristian Ofstad Lindberg is without a doubt a great pianist. I hope he gets a chance to take a more active role in the live music concert scene when these concerts begin again, hopefully soon.
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