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Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952)
Symphony No. 12 Hélsingeborg, BVN 318 (1946) [7:06]
Symphony No. 13 Undertro (Belief in Wonders), BVN 319 (1946-47) [27:40]
Symphony No. 14 Morgenen (The Morning) - Suite for chorus and orchestra, BVN 336 (1947-48/1951) [28:55]
Danish National Choir/DR
Danish National Symphony Orchestra/DR/Thomas Dausgaard,
rec. Danish Radio Concert Hall, 29 October 2004 (Symphony No. 12), 9-10 June 2006; (Symphony No. 14; 15-16 June 2006 (Symphony No. 13). DDD
Dacapo Records acknowledges, with gratitude, the financial support of Langgaard Fonden.
This SACD has been recorded in cooperation with the Danish Broadcasting Cooperation.
DACAPO 6.220517 [63:48]

Langgaard, mad or eccentric, suffered the Nielsen eclipse and resented it. It did not however stem his profusely creative talent. There are sixteen symphonies (1908-1951) and a great deal else including the opera Antikrist. Dacapo have been recording a complete cycle of the symphonies which although with different couplings rivals the complete cycle from Ilya Stupel on Danacord. It differs from it in that all the Dausgaard cycle is based on the new corrected edition of the symphonies issued by Edition Samfundet - Rued Langgaard Udgaven. This latest issue is on SACD although I reviewed it in standard CD mode. 

The Twelfth Symphony is in a continuous span of only seven minutes with episodes marked in the score as follows: Furiously! - Distinguished! - Increasingly agitated - Wildly - Like trivial last trumps! - Hectically nervous! - Andante lento - Lento misterioso - Poco allegro marcato - Allegro - Furiously! - Amok! A composer explodes. Bendt Viinholt Nielsen has been Langgaard's champion in much the same way that Lewis Foreman has championed Bax. He provides the customarily excellent liner-notes and tells us that this symphony is a reinterpretation of the epic First Symphony premiered in Berlin in 1909. The music has its roots resolutely stuck deep in the nineteenth century (Schumann and Tchaikovsky) but exuberant infusions from Richard Strauss.

The opening and closing figure of the seven movement Thirteenth Symphony is shared with Langgaard's Seventh. The language is much as its predecessor but I also detect some Brahms in the mix as well as some Beethovenian bluster. The music shivers with vitality. Langgaard's accommodating way with including light music inspiration in his symphonies puts in an appearance in the sixth movement, marked Elegant. The finale even sports a Nielsen-like skirl, lighter inspirations, brass 'over-emphasis', Schumann scherzo and melodic material and concert piano used to the point of vulgarity to adumbrate rhythm.

The Fourteenth Symphony opens with a massively exultant Introductory fanfare for chorus and full orchestra. Its tone is part Beethoven's Choral Symphony and part Verdi Requiem. It's a glorious din evocative or invocatory of the Second Coming of Christ. The other movements of Morgenen are: II Unnoticed morning stars (serene and gleaming strings) ; III The Marble Church rings (rapturous and glowing writing with a decidedly Schumann-like character; rather like the later movements); IV The tired get up for life; V Radio-Caruso and forced energy; VI 'Dads' rush to the office (nothing pell-mell - more a leisurely Mendelssohnian procession made original by the repeated spinning ostinato on the violins at 1:12); VII Sun and beech forest. That finale sees the return of the chorus but the music is now more leisurely. The exaltation and exultation of the first movement has faded into a soothing sunset - without exertion but bathed in sentimental light. 

There's no denying that Langgaard wrote in a completely incongruous idiom. The evidence is everywhere. That hardly matters and will matter even less as the decades pass. What does matter is that he writes fascinating and vulnerable music that still has the capacity to surprise and enchant. Thanks to everyone involved in the making of this disc that Langgaard can still speak affectingly to today's audiences.

Rob Barnett 
See also reviews of earlier instalments in the Dacapo cycle:


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