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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Thomas Jensen conducts the Aarhus Civic Orchestra
Friedrich KUHLAU (1786-1832)

Overture: William Shakespeare*
Svend Erik TARP (1908-1994)

The Raven, from Suite on Danish Folktunes*
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)

Ballet music from Le Cid*
Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)

Serenade for Strings in e, op. 20, Salut d’Amour*
C. C MØLLER (1823-1893)
Aarhus Tattoo*
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune**
Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

Marche Slave, op. 31**
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Sabre Dance from Gayaneh**
Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884)

Dance of the Comedians from The Bartered Bride**
Johann II STRAUSS (1825-1899)
Schatzwalzer, op. 418, Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, op. 214**
Johann I STRAUSS (1804-1849)
Radetzky March**
Aarhus Civic Orchestra/Thomas Jensen
Recorded in Aarhus, November 1948*, October 1956**
DANACORD DACOCD 497 [73’56"]



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The Aarhus Civic Orchestra was formed from the Aarhus Philharmonic Society and Theatre in 1935 and Jensen – not yet the name he was subsequently to become – had taken the position of conductor back in 1927. The 1935 reorganisation led in time to a greater orchestral strength and also to a series of recordings, the first in fact to be made in Denmark outside Copenhagen. Jensen was to stay in Aarhus for fully thirty years and these recordings, from 1948 and 1951 were all made for Tono and were of fairly light music.

Jensen rips nicely into Kuhlau’s Shakespearean overture and shows his lyrical imperative in Tarp’s Suite on Danish folk tunes, The Raven. The violins aren’t quite together here but Jensen phrases with unselfconscious refinement with the wind principals making a good showing and the ebb and flow of the line delineated with care and skill. The Aubade from Massenet’s Le Cid is delicious and Navarraise swaggers delightfully. Elgar’s Serenade for Strings receives a bracing reading; the string section sounds quite small and the playing is unmannered in the opening movement, and has an attractive intimacy in the Larghetto diametrically opposed to, say, Sargent’s yearning grief. Jensen shapes the lower strings nicely in the Allegretto, the answering phrases nicely handled. It was here that I worried about the transfer. It seems to me that there’s been too strong a treble cut. The Tonos of around this time could be noisy in a way recognisable from Deccas of a slightly earlier vintage and one way around the problem is to cut higher frequencies, which seems to have been done here.

Elgar’s Salut d’amour is put, thankfully, on a sugar-free diet and Møller’s Aarhus Tattoo, whilst admittedly not the most sophisticated of pieces, rather tickled me. The Debussy is somewhat earthbound – even though the violas and winds are otherwise not unattractive. Of the remainder of these tidbits the Marche Slave generates commendable drive – and Danacord are honest about the astounding tape join imbedded in the original – and I like the way the trumpets resist the temptation to blare. The Smetana is fine; sprung fiddles, good first trumpet with the witty woodwind flecking the score delightfully. Of the Strauss pieces I enjoyed most the Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, which is nicely done.

The miscellaneous collection will have its constituency. Jensen admirers will like his unaffected directness and those interested in the orchestral byways of post-War Danish musical life will give a listen to these genial discs, complete with good notes.

Jonathan Woolf

See also review by Chris Howell

 



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