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Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952)
Gitanjali-Hymner (Efter Tagore) (BVN 149; 1918) *
1. Din Musiks Glands (The light of thy music) [02:41]
2. Himlen sukker (The sky groans) [02:52]
3. Den fjerne Sang (The far-away song) [02:48]
4. Sejlfærd (Sailing) [02:01]
5. Sommerhvisken (Summer whisper) [03:32]
6. Himmel-Ensomhed (Sky Solitude) [04:03]
7. Den hvileløse Vind (The restless wind) [02:23]
8. Tavshedens Hav (The sea of silence) [04:38]
9. Regnfulde Blade (Rainy leaves) [02:03]
10. Gyldne Strømme (Golden streams) [03:06]
Fantasi-Sonate (BVN 121; 1916) *
11. Molto agitato e con passione [19:59]
Nat paa Sundet (Night on the Sound) (BVN 21; 1907) *
12. Tranquillo [01:15]
Hél-Sfærernes Musik (The Music of the Hél-Spheres)(BVN 371; 1948) *
13. Efterhaanden vanvittigt Tempo [01:37]
Vanvidsfantasi (Insanity Fantasy) (BVN 327; 1947/1949) [13:47 ]
14. Vanvidsefteraarsnat (Insane autumn night) [03:10]
15. Efteraarsengel (Autumn angel) [05:40]
16. Vanvidsgang (Running mad) [04:57
* world premiere recording
Berit Johansen Tange (piano)
Instrument: Steinway & Sons model D-274, nr. 566545
Recorded at Mantziusgården, Birkerød on January 12-14 and 26-27 2004
With financial support from Langgaard-Fonden, Dansk Musikerforbund HIO Invest and Juhl-Sørensen
DACAPO 8.226025 [66:53]

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The mystical poetry of Rabindranath Tagore who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, attracted many composers including Frank Bridge, John Alden Carpenter, Zemlinsky, Bernard Stevens, Stenhammar, Edvin Kallstenius, Arthur Meulemans and more recently Alistair Hinton. Most of them set the poetry for voice. The Danish composer Langgaard explores the essence of the poetry through a ten movement suite. Much of this is intensely romantic in a muscular Brahmsian way. However Den fjerne Sang, Tavshedens Hav and Himmel-Ensomhed are made of gentler reflective stuff and Sommerhvisken and Den hvileløse Vind dances and bubbles lightly. This feathery lyricism ascends close to Grieg in the impressive Gyldne Strømme.

The 1916 Fantasi-Sonate, in a single twenty minute movement, has a liquid serenity and the manner and some of the mannerisms of Schumann. The earliest piece here is Nat paa Sundet. This brevity has a tremulous, cloud-hung occlusion of mood suggesting that the composer might have heard some Rachmaninov. For Hél-Sfærernes Musik comes a violent change of idiom. This momentary mood piece is violent and dysjunctive - an electric storm of a piece - completely at odds with everything else here. You expect the three movement Vanvidsfantasi, from only one year later, to be more of the same but in fact it returns to the grand and tear-stained Brahms-Schumann manner of the 1900s and 1910s. If this music is to have any chance it is better to forget when it was written and sit back and absorb it as an obsessive romantic era discovery. Its anachronistic quality hardly matters when the focus is on music that was Langgaard’s exploration of Schumann’s dark and tortured state of mind during the years preceding his death in Bonn in 1856. Langgaard however insists that the listener peers out on contemporary despair in momentary vignettes or flashes of discord in the finale. Disorientation lends intensity to the listening experience.

Langgaard’s symphonies - especially the teens in the series - can be extraordinary vehicles for a startling re-adoption of the Schumann idiom. The piano music follows a similar pattern. It is in such works as Hél-Sfærernes Musik, the opera Anti-Christ and the choral-orchestral Music of the Spheres that Langgaard looks to another polarity altogether from the accustomed grand manner romantic-heroism.

This CD, most lucidly and thoroughly annotated by the sympathetic and commandingly authoritative pianist, presents Langgaard to the world as a tortured soul whose delight in melody was equalled only by his despair over contemporary neglect.

Rob Barnett


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