Scandinavian Classics - Volume 3
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Symfoniske Danse (Symphonic Dances), Op. 64 [25:24]
Norske Danse (Norwegian Dances), Op. 35 (orch. Hans Sitt) [15:46]
Harald SÆVERUD (1897-1992)
Peer Gynt Incidental music to Ibsen’s play (Dovreslåt (Dovretoll Jog) [4:05]; Anitra (Anitra) [3:39]; Fa’ens femsteg (The Devil’s Five-Hop) [2:10]; Hotaren (The Threatener) [1:29]; Brureslåtten (Bridal Dance) [3:09]; Solveig (Solveig) [1:14]; Blandet selskap (Mixed Company) [2:21]; Salme mot bøygen (Hymn against the Boyg) [2:01]; Gravsalme (Grave-hymn) [2:21]; Tvinnan (Twinnan) [1:56]; Og ikke skal du fryse (You’ll never be cold) [0:29]; Mor Åse skal slippe frit (Mother Aase is welcome here) [2:54]; Foran teltet (Outside the Tent) [1:13]; Røster i skodden (Voices in the mist) [3:00]; Pinsesalme (Whitsun hymn) [1:19]) [34:09]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 [33:10]
Four Lemminkainen Legends for Orchestra, Op. 22 (Lemminkäinen and the Maidens of Saari [16:08]; The Swan of Tuonela [7:36]; Lemminkäinen in Tuonela [14:20]; Lemminkäinen’s Return [6:26]) [44:50]
Emil Telmányi (violin)
Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Erik Tuxen, Thomas Jensen
Statsradiofoniens Symfoniorkester/Erik Tuxen (Concerto)
Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Jensen
rec. Concert Hall of Danish Radio, Copenhagen. 1949-1953. Tono LPX35003, 10-11 May 1952 (Grieg); HMV Z328-330 &*Z346 29-30 August, 2 September &*12 September 1949 under supervision of Composer (Saeverud); Tono LPX35002 recorded 21-23 April 1952 (Concerto); Decca LXT2841 recorded July 1953 (Legends). ADD. Mono
DANACORD DACOCD 697-98 [75:46 + 78:26]
This is the third in Danacord’s ‘Scandinavian Classics’ series - a line valuable because it brings back into circulation Danish analogue recordings from the 1940s and 1950s some never previously reissued. Volume 1 was reviewed here back in 2003. Volume 2 is DACOCD 673-74 and has recordings made in 1942-1952 by the Danish RSO with Erik Tuxen and Launy Grøndahl: Kuhlau’s Elverhøj, Gade’s Efterklange af Ossian and Novelletter, J.P.E. Hartmann’s Liden Kirsten and Sørgemarch, C.F.E. Horneman’s Eventyr-ouverture, Aladdin and Gurre-Suite, Lange-Müller’s Renaissance, Nielsen’s Maskarade excerpts, Poul Schierbeck’s Fête Galante, Peder Gram’s Poème lyrique and Svend Schultz’s Serenade for Strings - the latter also on Dutton.
Tuxen has the first disc and Jensen the second. Tuxen’s Grieg Symphonic Danes run on a very high Tchaikovskian octane and the brass in particular have the heady blare of Soviet era Russian orchestras. The music is flammable and volatile. This is Grieg for grown-ups rather than bon-bon chasers. Even the second dance is more Nutcracker than Gynt; passionate Grieg this. The Norwegian Dances have a Mussorgskian accent when they don’t sound like Borodin. That said, Tuxen can turn on the chuckle and charm as he does in the famous second dance. We leave even the suggestion of affable behind with the modernism of Harald Saeverud’s Gynt music. This brings out the grotesquerie and horror of the saga creatures with Prokofiev-style sharp etching - groaning, fleering woodwind, whistles and eldritch merriment. The satirical material and some of the lyrical material echoes Kodaly as in Gravsalme. Brureslatten and Tvinnan enjoy some spicing up from folk fiddles. Berg meets Sibelius in the twilit acidulated violins of Solveig. This long sequence of character and mood-pieces is a whirlpool of activity - all very inventive. It’s long past time that this fifteen vignette sequence was given a new spectacular recording with a conductor in touch with the music’s feral eccentricities. The sequence would work better in the concert hall if it ended with one of the many spectacular movements rather than the passive amble that is Pinesalme.
The Hungarian virtuoso Emil Telmanyi (1898-1988) made his name with the Bach Sonatas and Partitas which he recorded with his arched Vega bow in 1954. He settled in Copenhagen, was married to Nielsen’s daughter, Anne-Marie, and recorded her father’s Violin Concerto as well as several of the sonatas. The Sibelius concerto made in 1952 I had not come across before. There is a care - almost a carefulness - about the playing. One senses a mission to allow no single note to escape considered presentation. An impression of deliberation and an emphatic approach is what I came away from this experience with. It strikes me as impressive but not heady or dazzlingly virtuosic - a most musicianly performance. Telmanyi goes for the philosopher’s stone rather than high summer’s fruit. Like the other Tono-originated recordings it has a low level and evenly produced busy surface but no other audio detritus. I wonder if Danacord were working with master tapes - it feels that way. The Decca-originated Lemminkainen Legends,as conducted by Jensen, will be familiar to oldsters from the rather starved Decca Eclipse LP. I reviewed this in 2008 when it reappeared for the first time in decades on Australian Eloquence along with some extraordinarily fine Sibelius from Jan Damen and Van Beinum. These Legends are properly - even urgently - passionate. This is after all about that Finnish rake, Lemminkainen. You feel the urgency even in The Swan which serves to remind us that the swan is not asleep as she glides. There’s a nicely thrumming sense of sinister nocturnal threat in the third Legend. Danacord work with a virtually silent surface and with intrinsically better - though not perfect - sound than the Tono recordings. It is a very satisfying account in the upper echelons of an increasingly crowded corner of the Sibelius catalogue. We can now hear such fine recordings as those by Ormandy (Pristine should give us his 1950s CBS-Odyssey version as well), Kamu (Eloquence) and Vänskä (Bis).
There’s a promised volume 4 (DACOCD707-708) yet to be issued with recordings (1948-58) of Nielsen, Sibelius, Grieg, Svendsen and Gade. The more the merrier.
This is the latest in a line valuable because it brings back into circulation iconic Danish analogue recordings from the 1940s and 1950s.