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CD Review

Rued Langgaard

  • Symphony #4 "Løvfald" (Leaf-fall) (1916) 1
  • Symphony #6 "Det Himmelrivende" (The Heaven-storming) (1919-20. Rev. 1926-30) 1
  • Symphony #10 "Hin Tordenbolig" (Yon Dwelling of Thunder) (1944-45) 2
  • Suite (Symphony #14) "Morgenen" (The Morning)(1947-48. Final version 1951) 3
  • The Music of the Spheres (1918) 4
1 Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/John Frandsen
3 Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Michael Schønwandt
2 Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Ole Schmidt
4 Danish National Radio Symphony & Choir/John Frandsen
Danacord 560 144m ADD

These are definitive historic performances of Langgaard's symphonies when his music was ill understood and not as popular (relatively speaking) as it is now. The huge washes of sound concentrated in small canvases are typical of a composer who worked on short bursts of explosive creative energy that is avidly demonstrated in this selection of works. #14 has some very down-to-earth titles but the music captivates in its use of a choir and searingly awash final movement where the cacophony of sound almost threatens to envelop the listener. Frandsen's performances of the 4th and 6th are definitive for his taut sense of structure and controlled mannerisms that reveal the inner emotions of the composer. 'The Heaven storming' (#6) is particularly marvelous for its change of rhythm and explosive climaxes.

Ole Schmidt's performance of the half-hour 'Yon Dwelling of Thunder' is a shattering experience. He displaces Stupel (also on Danacord) with aplomb and the terrific energy of Langgaard's vision is almost terrifyingly communicated. Schmidt understands Langgaard's idiom perfectly and the way he shapes the symphony's progress is unerringly authoritative with no loss of detail as a result. The second disc concludes with Frandsen's marvelous 'Music of the Spheres', this is Langgaard in a different league and Segerstams' Chandos recording is certainly not a patch on this one. All the orgiastic semblances of Langgaard's apocalyptic orchestral writing are fused into this organic whole that could be called his masterpiece. The chorus and distant orchestra are also very much up to Frandsen's fast tempi, very difficult in a live performance of such a demanding work. Danacord have refurbished the recordings beautifully, the result is a double album of authority as far as Langgaard's music is concerned.

Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech