Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952)
Sarabande (1906)
Morgen ved Sranden (1907)
Albumsblad (1912)
Blomstervignetter (1913)
Gitanjali-Hymner (1918, 1920)
Afgrundsmusik (1921)
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
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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 sequence.

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.

Rob Barnett

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

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