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Jacob GADE (1879–1963)
Jalousie – Suites, Tangos and Waltzes
1. Jalousie, Tango Tsigane (1925) [4:06]
2. Leda and the Swan, Légende d’amour (1939) [11:07]
Suite d’amour (1940)
3. The First Meeting [3:49]
4. In Love [3:26]
5. Red Roses [3:42]
6. Rhapsodietta (1931) [6:58]
7. Romanesca, Tango (1933) [4:38]
Wedding at Himmelspind, Rustic Suite (1937)
8. Arrival of the Wedding Guests [2:07]
9. The Bridal Procession [3:00]
10. The Wedding Feast [3:03]
11. Finale [4:01]
12. Valse Capriccio (arr: Ole Højer) (1943) [4:43]
13. Copenhagen Life, Waltz (1937) [4:48]
14. Douces Secrets, Valse Lente (1919) [6:37]
Odense Symphony Orchestra/Matthias Aeschbacher
rec. Odense Concert Hall, 12-16 January 1998
DACAPO 6.220509 [66:42]

 

Experience Classicsonline


Most of my early acquaintance with music was through the radio in the 1950s. The then only Swedish radio channel broadcast every weekday a programme called the ‘Gramophone Hour’. It mixed popular and classical music, beginning with an overture and ending with a march – or vice versa. A recurring favourite was a riveting orchestral piece, in Swedish entitled Tango jalusi. Having little knowledge in English in those days the word ‘jalusi’ was a bit confusing, since this is the Swedish word for Venetian blind. Even to a not-yet-teenager the music was so alluring that I was sure it must be something more exciting than a blind. Then, one day the radio announcer said something about svartsjuka (literal translation ‘black sickness’ but meaning ‘jealousy’). Then I figured out that in all likelihood some jealous person was peeping through a Venetian blind. I have learnt a thing or two since, but even then I knew that the composer’s name was Jacob Gade and that he was Danish. The recording invariably played was the Boston Pops (in Swedish The Boston Promenade Orchestra) under Arthur Fiedler. When I later got a record player of my own I soon found a recording with Mantovani and his Orchestra which was quite good and less smarmy than some of his arrangements.

For many years I thought that Jalousie was a one-off by some reasonably gifted musician who had a lucky day. The present disc has a different message: Jacob Gade was a multi-talented musician who started playing as a child and at the age of nine made his debut as trumpeter in his father’s ten-member band. A year later he was invited to Copenhagen as guest soloist in the Tivoli Band! He also learnt the violin and started composing; before he was twenty he had his first compositions published. He worked as violinist with various orchestras and was soon promoted to conductor, first in entertainment and dance bands and later in theatres and cinemas. He also appeared as solo violinist, playing Paganini and Bach among other things. He spent a few years in New York in his early forties, playing for two years in the New York Philharmonic. Back in Denmark he continued working with cinema orchestras but with the advent of talking film that type of music became redundant. For some years he led entertainment orchestras but then jazz made its entrance also in Denmark; that was the end of his conducting career. From then on he concentrated on composing.

Having been involved in popular music for most of his life he still had the scope for writing more large-scale works. His oeuvre has to be classified as light music; nothing condescending in that. Well written, well orchestrated music in this genre still has a hold on a lot of people. The Strauss family’s works are as alive today as they were in the 19th century. Naxos’s successful series of works by Leroy Anderson – another composer of Scandinavian extraction, his parents emigrated from Sweden – proves that this is indeed evergreen music.

Pride of place – occupying track 1 – goes to Jalousie, played here with irresistible lilt. The Odense Orchestra need under no circumstances feel second best to the Boston Pops. However peeping through the Venetian blinds reveals gems of comparable lustre among the other works here. Leda and the Swan is lyrical, evocatively orchestrated, inoffensive but beautifully romantic ballet music. The first movement, The first meeting, of Suite d’amour, has a beautiful melody – why has nobody told me about this before? – and the second movement, In love, is a truly catchy tune. Rhapsodietta, is what the title tells us: a number of melodies, loosely fit together. The opening is rather brash but it is vital music and it is expertly orchestrated. The other tango, Romanesca, has a violin solo in the opening, like Jalousie, and after the slow introduction it is a rather fiery work. Composed eight years after its famous big brother it was probably intended to be another hit but never quite made it. The rustic suite Wedding at Himmelspind is really attractive. Himmelspind is a small place outside Vejle, where Gade was born - in his youth he often played at village weddings there, so he has surely caught the atmosphere. It is highly entertaining throughout. The third movement The wedding feast, with its roots in folklore, strikes a nostalgic note among Scandinavians – it opens with rustic fiddlers. The Finale is riveting. In the Viennese-inspired Valse caprice there is a long violin solo, whereas Copenhagen Life felt more anonymous. Possibly the pick of the whole programme comes last: the alluring slow waltz Douces secrets, which is the earliest composition here. It was published, as several other of his works, under the pseudonym Maurice Ribot, foreign names obviously making a good impression in those days.

The excellent Odense Symphony is conducted with élan as well as a fine feeling for lyrical beauty. Swiss-born Matthias Aeschbacher is the son of the distinguished pianist Adrian Aeschbacher, whose DG recording of Schubert’s Impromptus was an early favourite of mine. The audio side is excellent and the surround sound gives the impression of being there. It is hard to imagine this music better performed.

Peeping through the Venetian blinds into Jacob Gade’s attractive world was a pleasing experience. The only jealousy I felt was towards those who got to know this music before the blinds opened to me.

Göran Forsling

 


 


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