I had never heard of these two ‘father and son’ composers until I received this CD. It is the latest in Danacord’s sterling efforts at presenting ‘Harmonious Families’. This series has included the Langgaards
, the Hartmanns
, the Gades
, the Hameriks
and the Helsteds
. I enjoyed virtually every song on this CD of music by the Rungs.
Henrik Rung was born in Copenhagen in 1807. He was chorus-master at the Royal Opera as well as conducting the Cecilia Society which he established in 1851. Henrik composed eight operas, some incidental music as well as choruses for his choir and many songs. He died in Copenhagen in 1871. The liner-notes suggest that he is one of Denmark’s most important song composers and records recent interest in his work.
Frederik Rung was also born in Copenhagen in 1854. Unsurprisingly, his music teacher was his father. After further study with Niels Gade and J.P.E. Hartmann, he obtained a position as coach at the Royal Opera in the capital. He was promoted to assistant conductor in 1884 and finally to first conductor in 1908. Frederik taught music at the Copenhagen Conservatory and also at Horneman’s Music School. As a composer his works include the opera ‘The Three Cornered Hat’ and a ballet score for ‘A Carnival Jest in Venice’. There was a Symphony in D minor, an orchestral Rhapsody and a Suite for trumpet and strings. He was prolific in writing chamber music as well as piano pieces and songs. Frederik Rung died in Copenhagen in 1914.
For most British listeners, only Hans Christian Andersen and Henrik Ibsen will be familiar as writers. However, the two Rungs have set a wide variety of poets from Denmark and Germany. The subject matter of these songs included national romantic songs, love serenades and a ghost story. Also included are lyrics from plays by Ibsen and Hertz. Both composers fairly and squarely inhabit the romantic world with their song writing. Melodies are strong and the accompaniments are typically well-judged.
An additional ‘bonus’ on this CD is a piano piece, ‘In Memoriam’ by P.E. Lange-Muller (1850-1926) which was composed to commemorate the death on Frederik Rung in 1914. It is a lugubrious funeral march.
The CD is well presented. The words of the songs are included in their original language as well as in English translation. The liner-notes are excellent with clear text written in Danish and English and a number of historical photographs of father and son are included. Résumés are given of the three singers and the pianist.
I was impressed by the sound quality of this CD which, like all Danacord productions is classy. The singing of these songs is inspirational and I note that all the artists regularly present recitals of Danish music.
This CD will appeal strongly to all interested in
Scandinavian music as well as lovers of song in general. The quality of this romantic music from father and son is high and clearly represents a signal contribution to the song repertoire of Denmark.