The Danish companies continue to do Langgaard proud. None of them can match
Danacord but Dacapo have done wonders with the chamber music, with the
Sinfonia Interna and with the songs. In this issue the songs and chamber
Lenaustemninger (Lenau Moods) is a cycle of four songs
for mezzo and string quartet. They set poems to words by Thor Lange in the
style of German poet Nikolaus Lenau. These are richly romantic settings much
closer to George Butterworth's Love Blows as the Wind Blows and to
the earlier works of Othmar Schoeck. The common cause with the folksy
impressionism of Sinfonia Interna is clear. I Blomstringstiden
(In Blossom Time), for the same forces, is just two songs
which set Alvilde Prydz and these are in the same idiom as the Lenau pieces.
We then leave behind the lovely voice of Annette Simonsen for chamber
instrumental textures. The Dvorakian Wind Septet for flute, oboe, two
clarinets, 2 French horns, and bassoon is an utterly charming serenata
or cassation. Dvorák and Mozart also stalk the elegant and (perhaps
a little) dry pages of the 1918 string quartet. Try it as an 'Innocent
Ear' on your friends. It is almost as if Langgaard consciously wrote this
as a pastiche.
The Humoresque (for sextet of flute, oboe, cor anglais, clarinet,
bassoon and snare drum) from 1923 is, like the Septet, in a single movement.
In it Langgaard breaks with the Serenade style, writing pawky, peppery music.
It is remarkable for employing a by no means discreet side drum. This is
much closer to Nielsen's writing in the wind quintet and indeed to the character
of the reed instruments in Janacek's chamber ensemble pieces. It could easily
have been written by a completely different composer from the one who wrote
the other pieces. The flute ornamentation and flightiness at 6.46 is surely
to be associated with Nielsen's 'signature' in the Flute Concerto.
The booklet notes are by none other than Lannggaard's biographer and cataloguer
- true scholar, Bendt Viinholt Nielsen.
A lovely disc and with a 'time bomb' in the shape of the Humoresque
which, by the way, was originally entitled 'Symphony'.