Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

RUED LANGGAARD (1893-1952) The End Of Time [24.08] From 'The Song of Solomon' [16.25] Interdict [10.33] Carl Nielsen - Our Great Composer [8.48]    Nina Pavlovksi (sop) Stig Andersen (ten) Per Hoyer (bar) Danish National Radio Choir Danish National Radio SO/Gennady Rozhdestvensky   rec Danish Radio Concert Hall. 30 Oct, 2, 3, 5 Nov 1999 Chandos CHAN9786

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The End Of Time is in four movements offering a pocket version of his two hour opera-oratorio Antikrist (recently recorded on Danacord). The prelude with its ticking pizzicato, bells and sacerdotal brass is predictive of Alan Hovhaness's eternity evocations e.g. in the Vishnu Symphony. A sated hymn is unwound by the strings (pianissimo) with struck cymbals disrupting the flow and leading back into a web of subtle string-dominated sound through which the brass stride like confident masters. The ticking pizzicato returns under a John Barry type tune. The work mixes the choral writing we know from Penderecki, with a Debussian solo line (Pelleas), a saturated atmosphere having much in common with Delius's A Mass Of Life and the medieval awe familiar from the Te Deum section of Havergal Brian's Gothic. It is just a little turgid towards the end but all is forgiven and rounded out with the full circle return of the 'John Barry melody'.

The Song of Solomon is clearly affected by the examples of Wagner's Meistersinger and the operas of Richard Strauss. The music traces its forbears to the high romantic era of Gade and Hartmann. This smacks more of a warm night serenade than anything terribly erotic.

Interdict is angry, portentous, perhaps Elgarian but somehow more brutal and filmic. It sports some scarlet-purple imagery, macabre tendencies and an organ part which hurtles around the aural landscape like a projectile. Think of the prelude to The Kingdom but with all brakes and constraints off. The brass sneer and jab recalling Mussorgsky's Night on the Bare Mountain.

Carl Nielsen - Our Great Composer is a work of lampooning irony. It sounds for all the world like Walton's Coronation Te Deum and Crown Imperial. Nielsen in whose shadow reputation shrivelled was execrated by Langgaard yet at the same time was one of a many influences on his music. The piece is given a straight-faced performance of the utmost conviction repeating the same satisfying episode of coronation pomp over and over. Here the performance runs almost nine minutes but Langgaard, who felt stifled by Nielsen's all-obliterating success directed that it should be repeated 'for eternity' underlining his ironic intent.

Full texts and notes are given. Recommended.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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