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Svend Erik TARP (1908-1994)
Suite from the ballet ‘The Dethroned Animal Tamer’, Op.38 (1942) [12:37]
Concertino for Flute and Orchestra, Op.30 (1937) [10:58]
Overture to a Comedy No.1, Op.36 (1940) [6:49]
Concertino for Violin and Orchestra, Op.13 (1932 rev 1936) [11:39]
Suite on Old Danish Folk Songs (1933) [12:37]
Lena Kildahl (flute)
Stanislav Pronin (violin)
Aarhus Symphony Orchestra/Tobias Ringborg
rec. 2016, Symphonic Hall, Musikhuset Aarhus, Denmark
DACAPO SACD 6.220668 [54:44]

Sven Erik Tarp was a contemporary of Vagn Holmboe and Herman D Koppel and flourished in the same musical climate that saw their joint emergence from the 1930s onwards in the vanguard of Danish music. If Tarp is less well-known than they are, this first volume in Dacapo’s projected three volume series should help orientate him in the right milieu, which is a broadly post-Riisager one, sharing the neo-classical affiliations of his two distinguished colleagues though on the evidence, thus far, in a rather more breezy kind of way.

The inaugural volume of this series concentrates on orchestral music written between 1931 and 1942. The suite from the ballet ‘The Dethroned Animal Tamer’, Op.38 is full of vivid characterisation and extreme compression of expression. The nine separately tracked scenes last twelve minutes so one can enjoy the elegant refinement of orchestration, the well-integrated piano writing, the almost Gallic grace of elements of it, as well as Tarp’s response to the more larky nature of the commission. Add to all this a furioso fugal scene, a not-too-doloroso Danse triste and a vampy finale – light-hearted piano, whimsical winds – and you have a splendid entrée to Tarp’s muse.

The Flute Concertino is strongly neo-classical, and its attractive themes are conveyed with warmth and agility by Lena Kildahl. Tarp’s orchestration is smooth and silken here, all elegance and purity. The Violin Concerto detained him slightly longer. Composed in 1932 it was revised four years later and shares the companion concerto’s sense of energy and clean-limbed, uncluttered orchestration. The orchestral accompaniment to the violin’s highly lyric solo in the slow movement is an obvious high-point but in its way so, too, is Tarp’s willingness to compress still further; the breezy finale is over in 90 seconds. Soloist Stanislav Pronin wrote the first movement cadenza and is finely attuned both the medium and the message of Tarp’s writing.

The Overture to a Comedy No.1, Op.36 – there are two comedy overtures and the second will follow in volume 3 - dates from 1940 and is notable for the unashamed lingering romanticism of its second subject, which creates an attractive contrast. The other purely orchestral work is the Suite on Old Danish Folk Songs, of 1933. Cast in four panels, the music here is both stylistically interesting and expressively richer than anything to be found elsewhere. The opening song of the raven, coilingly declaimed on the cor anglais, shows some Swan of Tuonela hints and if the comic ballad movement has a rather Classical feel, the third section, Little Kirsten’s Dance, is warmly moulded and quite sonorous. The finale, a processional ballad, with strong brass calls, caps a fine, rewarding work.

Tobias Ringborg directs with crispness or breadth as the occasion demands and his accomplished Aarhus forces prove as adept in this repertoire as they have elsewhere on disc. In fact, all the players, solo or orchestral, distinguish themselves throughout. That applies equally to the recording quality and to the excellent booklet notes.

The next volume promises some enticing fare; two symphonies, a piano concerto and Pro defunctis, for large orchestra.

Jonathan Woolf


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