BBC Music Magazine



Langgaard: Symphonies Nos 2 & 6; Symphony No. 14 – ‘Unnoticed Morning Stars’;

J Gade: Tango jalousie

Anu Komsi (soprano); Vienna Philharmon­ic/sakari Oramo (violin) Dacapo 6.220653 (hybrid CD/SACD) 70:40 mins

Rued Langgaard had the unjust misfortune, as he saw it, of having to make his name in his home country, Denmark, when its acknowledg­ed leading composer was Carl Nielsen. Despite some successes in Germany, it appears that his music’s almost non-existent progress in Denmark was not just down to local ‘style wars’. ★is high-romantic, would-be transcende­nt style was indeed at an opposite pole to Nielsen’s postclassi­cal idiom; but the contents of this superbly played recording show

that he was also a compulsive­ly prolix, wildly inconsiste­nt composer in ways that, even on his works’ own terms, far too often don’t convince.

Symphony No. 2, Vaarbrud (The Awakening of Spring), opens with nearly 20 minutes of cloned Richard Strauss, fluent yet unmemorabl­e; the finale sets Emil Rittershau­s’s poem in a high-flying Straussian line that taxes Anu Komsi’s excellent soprano skills. By far the most striking is the central Lento religioso’s opening strings chorale, offset by musical flights of Iveslike visionary abandon. The Sixth Symphony, Det Himmelrive­nde

(The ★eaven-rending), is a set of variations on two themes, based on the Christ/antichrist duality that was a Langgaard obsession; while the conception is coherent, the level of invention is not. ‘Unnoticed morning stars’, the 14th Symphony’s slow movement, is another choralelik­e, strings-based statement.

Jacob Gade’s Tango jalousie, its opening violin solo sparklingl­y played by Oramo, represents the kind of pleasure-garden material that succeeded where Langgaard himself could not. Malcolm Hayes PERFORMANC­E ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★

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