Peter Friis Johansson Plays Concertos with Personal Connections
Pianist Peter Friis Johansson presents an impressive program of Swedish piano concertos. All three have a direct relationship to the artist. The earliest is by pioneering female composer Laura Netzel. The other two come from the 2010s, but are very different in style.
Laura Netzel was a composer and pianist active in Sweden at the end of the 19th Century. Her only piano concerto was never published. It was lost for a while, but when found, it lacked the end of the third movement. Johansson completed the concerto. And he premiered the work in 2020 with the Royal Stockholm Orchestra.
This recording pairs him with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. And it’s spectacular. Netzel’s big melodic gestures rival Edvard Grieg’s. And though some sections have heroic grandeur, others evoke quiet contemplation. Johansson makes it all work. His performance is both enthusiastic and engaging.
Johansson commissioned Sven-David Sandström for a concerto. The result was “Five Pieces for Piano and Orchestra.” Sandström deconstructs the concept of the concerto. At times the piano and orchestra seem to be playing two different works. They seem to constantly interrupt each other in the process.
Andrea Tarrodi responded differently to Johansson’s commission. “Stellar Clouds (Piano Concerto No. 1) uses the piano and orchestra as a single entity. As the title suggests, clouds of sound swirl about, gradually changing and evolving.
In some sense, Johannson owns these works. Two were composed for him, and one he completed himself. His playing is flawless. And his expressiveness and phrasing vary with each work to match its style. And it’s the right choice every time.
A phenomenal collection of music that gives full reign to the artist behind them.
Netzel, Sandström & Tarrodi – Piano Concertos
Peter Friis Johansson, piano
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; Ryan Bancroft, conductor