Morgen ved Sranden (1907)
Gitanjali-Hymner (1918, 1920)
Piano Sonata No. 1 (1925, 1933)
Flammekamrene (1930, 1937)
Smaa Sommerminder (1940)
Skyggeliv (1914, 1945)
Vanvidsfantasi (1916, 1947, 1949)
Bengt Johnsson (piano)
rec Århus, 1984 except Regnfulde Blade, Piano Sonata and
Skyggeliv - rec 1990. ADD
Many tracks first released on LP DMA 067-068. Regnfulde Blade,
Piano Sonata and Skyggeliv first appearance
DANACORD DACOCD 369
Whatever you may have heard about Langgaard the modernist Sarabande,
Morgen ved Sranden, Albumsblad and Blomstervignetter
are more in harmony with Bach. There is some Beethoven there as well but
this is the Ludwig of contented equipoise rather than the furrowed brow.
Gitanjali-Hymner (or at least the two mosaic pieces featured here)
are of cascading mothwing charm. It is a shame that we cannot hear the complete
Afgrundsmusik is an icy douche by contrast. Muscular and clangorously
torrential - it recalls Stravinsky. It also has a Mussorgskian brusqueness
and the recall of a cross-cut iron-hearted carillon. Langgaard was evidently
fond of these disruptive and repetitious 'diagonal' cut figures. Their role
might be compared with the side-drum aleatorics of Nielsen's Fifth Symphony
in efforts to halt the progress of the music. This is extremely impressive
and serious - easily transcending the prettiness of some of the pieces -
music of imaginative origin and expression lurching outwards toward John
Cage and the mechanised pell-mell hectics of Conlon Nancarrow. Afgrundsmusik
feels like a big piece partaking of the dangerous tumult of Foulds'
April-England and Frank Bridge's Enter Spring. Flammekamrene
is closer to Afgrundsmusik than to Sarabande. In it Langgaard's
building and tightening of tension is gripping.
The Piano Sonata No. 1 reverts to the argot of the Sarabande - Macdowell
spliced with middle period Beethoven. It is all very skilled and in the
animato scherzoso explores Chopin's realms of gentle fancy.
The Engang and Skyggeliv are Beethovenian - slightly spiced.
The Vanvidsfantasi takes us back to a harmonically crippled language
adding saltiness to an essentially romantic temperament.
Many of the tracks on this, the longer of Danacord's two Langgaard piano
recitals, were first released on LP DMA 067-068. Johnsson's Regnfulde
Blade, Piano Sonata No. 1 and Skyggeliv make their first appearance.
Forced to choose between Froundjian's and Johnsson's Danacords I would opt
for the Johnsson because of Afgrundsmusik. Either disc would pair
very neatly with Rosalind Bevan's traversal of Langgaard's thornier landscapes
on a 1998 ClassicO CD.
Annotation could hardly be more authoritative. It is by Bengt Johnsson himself.
Johnsson fell under the spell of Langgaard's music when he heard Symphony
No. 9 Fra Dronning. Johnsson was one of the fighters for the reinstatement
of Langgaard's music into the repertoire at least of Denmark and then further
afield in other Scandinavian countries.
If in difficulty by all means contact the UK distributors:
Discovery Records Ltd
phone 01672 563931
fax 01672 563934
or Danacord via their website at