As is not unusual with CPO this fully-loaded disc breaks new
The Danish composer August Enna was something of an old-fashioned
romantic; rather backward-looking but with some fresh ideas
melodically and in his use of the orchestra. His music – on
this showing - veers around Mendelssohn, Berlioz and Tchaikovsky.
Yet he also remind you at times of Sibelius and Nielsen (both
Among major non-vocal works he wrote just two symphonies (D
minor, 1886 and E major, 1908) and a violin concerto. His main
commitment lay in the field of opera two of which have been
recorded by CPO: Heisse Liebe (1903) on CPO777
250-2 and The Little Match Girl (or Das Streichholzmädel)
(1900) on CPO999
595-2. The latter is based on H.C. Andersen whose writings
inspired him more than once. The first two works on this disc
owe their origin to Andersen. The overture to The Little
Match Girl or The Little Match Seller could once
be heard on a long-gone Unicorn disc DKP(CD) 9036 recorded in
May 1986 in Odense by Ole Schmidt with the Odense Symphony Orchestra.
The Violin Concerto (1897) can be heard as part of the Kai Laursen
project on Danacord DACOCD466
or as part of the ten disc set on DACOCD461-470.
One reviewer commented on its modest charms and drew parallels
with the Godard concertos. I related it to the Gade and Mendelssohn
school: another singing display piece but with the emphasis
on heart rather than obviously flashy pyrotechnics. It’s all
over and done with in 22:57. Agreed the 1966 vintage recording
does not help its cause.
The other Enna operas of which there are about twenty include
Heksen (The Witch), 4 acts (1891), Cleopatra,
3 acts after H Rider Haggard (1893), Aucassin und Nicolette,
4 scenes (1896), Die Erbsenprinzessin, comic opera, 1
act after H.C. Andersen (1902), Gloria Arsena. 4 scenes
after Alexandre Dumas (1916), The Comedians, 3 Acts (1921),
and Don Juan Mañara, in 3 acts (1922). This is not to
forget other non-operatic yet vocal works such as Die Schäferin
und der Schornsteinfeger (The Shepherdess and the Chimney
Sweep) after H.C. Andersen. (1902), Mutterliebe, Legend
for soli, choir and orchestra (1907), Sancta Cecilia's Guldsko
(Golden shoes), a pantomime-ballet, 1 act (1905) and Bellman
– A Fantasy, 4 scenes (1907).
The score for the 32 minute, four movement Fairy Tales
does not identify any particular stories. The movements
carry standard tempo markings; that’s it. The first begins imposingly
in a tempest - but soon sighs romantically before returning
to the storms. The Andante and the Allegro Vivace
are stirringly big-hearted and brilliant affairs with Tchaikovskian
resonances - an echo also shared by Haakon
Glass and Levi
Madetoja. That smiling Tchaikovskian wraith also hangs benevolently
over the last few pages of the finale. After a long cello solo-led
foreword we have a soulfully pulsating finale with a grand melody
of Tchaikovskian pathos. This transforms into a jingling alla
turca fantasy which must surely have left its imprint on
Nielsen for his music for Oehlenschlager’s Aladdin. The
Hans Christian Andersen Overture at first roars
with the defiance of Egmont and Eroica and something
of the tragedy of Tchaikovsky’s Hamlet but soon relaxes
into a sumptuous smooch. It then finds a chatteringly propulsive
tempo which recalls Le Corsair and Carnaval Romain.
The Second Symphony is in four sumptuous movements and
combines a Tchaikovskian manner (Fifth Symphony) with an folk-idyllic
and sometimes Delian pulse. The music is playful and jolly without
being simple-minded. The reins are held with due tension for
which credit must go to Hofstetter who will, I hope, become
a CPO stalwart. The third movement uses a chattering folk-like
dance with a lightly applied dash of fugal paint. The two outer
movements are big structures and in the case of the finale combine
folk-dance with grandeur and at the end bristling drama. There’s
a touch of Svendsen and Alfvén here too but the Scandinavian
accent is not all that assertive.
The strings are not quite as juicily ‘fruity’ and resilient
as I might have hoped but not sufficient to detract; just something
to be aware of.
Liner-notes from CPO can at times be rather congealed; not this
one - which is by Jens Cornelius.
I hope that CPO will let us have the First Symphony in due course.
Of the stage works I am most intrigued by the Rider Haggard
opera Cleopatra – did any other composer write anything
inspired by Haggard?
Postscript from Holger Sambale
I have this disc and quite like it, too - really nice and appealing music. What I want to make you aware of is the following: as far as I am informed, Enna's Symphony No. 1 is lost - so there is no chance for a release. At least that is what MGG (= Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, a huge music encyclopedia which is best described as the German equivalent of New Grove) tells us. HS