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The more I hear of Julius Röntgen’s music, the more I like it. His music has been going through a much-deserved rediscovery in recent years, initially fuelled by CPO’s pioneering issues of several of his symphonies and concertos, followed by two (so far) enchanting discs of his string trios on Champs Hill plus the start of a series devoted to the violin music from Toccata Classics. Now comes the start of another series from Nimbus, devoted to his piano music – and what a treat it is.

These four works are spread throughout his career, from the early Suite in Four Movements of 1873 (written when he was 18) to the ten-movement suite Buiten (‘Outside’, 1919) composed when he was in his 60s. The Suite shows why Röntgen was considered a compositional prodigy. It is a remarkably assured work, showing what he had learned at the feet of Reinecke. The Variations and Finale on a Hungarian Czardas (1885) is more impressive still, in places reminiscent of late Beethoven, the overall result strongly appealing and intellectually satisfying.

Alternative sides of his creative character are displayed in the slightly later Three Romances of 1904, with their more fully expressed Romanticism, and the almost Impressionistic suite Buiten, dedicated to his great friend Grieg (Röntgen completed the Norwegian’s Second Quartet) but imbued by Dutch folk music.

Mark Anderson is a pianist new to me but his playing here is a revelation, both in its own regard and as a vehicle for Röntgen’s music. His tone and touch are wonderfully varied and he seems equally at home in the earlier works, with their dependence on Classical and early Romantic models, as he is in the more overtly Romantic later works. Nimbus’s sound is exemplary. Highly recommended.

GRAHAM LOCK Read the full review on Agora Classica

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