This delightful collection of music from Scandinavia brings together some lesser know pieces from such luminaries as Kuhlau (1786-1832), Gade (1817-1890), Nielsen (1865-1931) and Hornemann (1840-1906). Although the level of inspiration cannot claim to be consistent, the quality of the music and the interpretations are certainly top-drawer stuff lovingly remastered by Danacord's ever enterprising Jesper Buhl.
Kuhlau's jovial incidental music to "The Elf Hill" is a real discovery with the descriptive pieces truly shining in Tuxen's magical interpretation. I greatly enjoyed Launy Grøndahl's reading of Gade's "Echoes of Ossian" overture which is to my mind now the definitive interpretation out there. J.P.E. Hartmann's Overture to "Little Kirsten" is also an outstanding discovery as is the quaint Funeral March for Bertel Thorvaldsen by the same composer.
The second disc begins with music by C.P.E. Horneman, a name familiar through a disc of orchestral works available on Chandos. The "Aladdin" Overture is winningly done as is the "Gurre" incidental music, to my mind vastly superior in Tuxen's mono recording. Carl Nielsen is represented by short excerpts from "Maskarade" – of course these two conductors are legendary for their unrivalled interpretations of the composer's symphonies (available on Danacord and Dutton). Finally we have some modern composers in the shape of Schierbeck (1888-1949), Gram (1881-1956) and Schultz (1913-1998) who provide valid enough works with the romantic Lange-Müller (1850-1926) also making an appearance.
The recordings from 1942-1952 vary in quality but are generally serviceable and the set contains some priceless notes by the tireless musicologist and Scandinavian specialist Lyndon Jenkins which make essential reading. A must for all enthusiasts of this repertoire and one hopes for further "discoveries" from this golden era of Northern musical recordings.
Copyright © 2010, Gerald Fenech