Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952)
Eight Songs – Emil Rittershaus (1908-13) [33:43] Fünf Lieder (Five Songs)
(1914) [09:57] Fem erotiske digt (Five Erotic Poems) – Vilhem Krag (1915)
Jens Krogsgaard (tenor) Jan Ole Christiansen, piano)
rec. February 2016, MCH Herning Kongrescenter
Sung texts with English translations enclosed DANACORD DACOCD771 [57:50]
Rued Langgaard was something of an eccentric in the Danish music community and struggled most of his life to gain acceptance. His musical language was strongly influenced by Wagner and Richard Strauss and his works were more successful abroad. He was a prolific composer, writing sixteen symphonies and almost 150 songs, the latter mainly during his early years. After his death in 1952 his music was more or less forgotten but towards the end of the last century he had something of a renaissance.
The three groups of songs presented here are very different from each other in style and atmosphere. The settings of the eight Emil Rittershaus poems by and large take the form of extended recitatives, elaborate piano accompaniments and long stretches of interludes and postludes. Pianist Jan Ole Christiansen has impressive stamina to be able to manage these often bombastic explosions and darkly threatening excursions into the lowest regions of the instrument. Just listen to the postlude to Das Auge (tr. 4). The music is impressive and so is the playing. Interest is primarily focused on the piano, which is just as well, since Jens Krogsgaard’s voice is heavily taxed by the music and he often has to resort to shouting. In softer music, like Sterben (tr. 5), where he sings mostly at mezzoforte, he is quite effective, but the voice is worn.
The Fünf Lieder, the first four to texts by Eichendorff and the last by Heine, are more melodiously interesting, and Ich weiss einen grossen Garten (tr. 12) is like a hymn.
Krag’s erotic poems are not very erotic, the general emotions are more fascination for the nature. Musically they are simpler and more like airs. The accompaniments are also more relaxed. Sérénade (tr. 17) could be a good starting point for those who want to sample before buying. This a little strophic song that is immediately accessible. The liner-notes give no clues as to why the groups are so different or whether the represent contrasting periods in the composer’s development. It is hard to believe that the Krag songs and the Rittershaus group were composed by the same person.
Those who want to explore Langgaard’s orchestral and chamber music on records will be richly rewarded by what is available in the catalogues and even his Church opera Antichrist has been recorded. His songs, on the other hand, are much rarer birds and we have to be grateful for these 18 examples. I wish though, that the singer had been more up to the mark. In all honesty however it is mainly in the Rittershaus songs that he can be found wanting.
Detailed Track Listings:
 Für Dich [2:58]
 Sie Schläft [4:07]
 Die Sonne meines Lebens [2:44]
 Das Auge [3:53]
 Sterben [6:12]
 Frühlingsnacht [8:45]
 Halte still [2:36]
 Mit Hellen Augen [2:38]
 Frühlingsgruss (J. v. Eichendorff) [0:59]
 Morgendämmerung (J. v. Eichendorff) [2:45]
 Was ist mir denn so wehe? (J. v. Eichendorff) [2:16]
 Ich weiss einen grossen Garten (J. v. Eichendorff) [1:05]
 Ein Fichtenbaum (H. Heine) [2:52]
Fem erotiske digte (5 Erotic Poems) - Vilhelm Krag
 Og atter ser jeg (Once again, I see) [2:05]
 Naar du kommer (When you arrive) [2:12]
 Lys nat (Bright night) [2:50]
 Serenade (Serenade) [3:20]
 I de forunderlige, blonde nætter (In the wondrous, blond nights) [3:33]