This is quite an interesting find! Bendix was a sort of linking point between
the romanticism of Gade and the overt progression of Carl Nielsen but his
beautiful style makes for some memorable listening. These are works crafted
in a sort of Glazunov-like manner, nothing out-of-the-ordinary but tuneful
and likeable nonetheless. The first disc pairs the Second, entitled: 'Sounds
of Summer from South Russia' and the Fourth, a relatively late work composed
in 1906. The former is full of bubbly effervescent music, a real potboiler
with a wonderfully expansive opening movement and a thrilling Finale, it
is indeed Molto vivace. I was not so comfortable with the Fourth, at times
it seems as if Bendix does not fully comprehend where he is going, perhaps
due to the new order so overwhelming his traditional instincts. I would single
out the deeply pensive Adagio non troppo for some wonderful tunes
and that is not a patch on the whirling Allegro animato, which opens
the symphony in rumbustious fashion. On the whole, the Second is a fair starting
point to approaching Bendix's symphonies.
The second disc pairs the First and Third, both impressive works and very
descriptive indeed. The First is entitled 'Mountain Climbing', one
cannot but think that Rued Langaard plagiarized this title for his own First
Symphony. This is a finely crafted work full of longing and contains some
memorable themes especially in the twelve-minute Overture. The Marcia
solenenne has one imagining a moonlight procession on a far-off Tibetan
mountain whilst the dashing Allegro animato makes for a fine conclusion.
The accompanying Third is perhaps the best of the works on disc. It rather
reminded me of Schumann's 'Rhenish' with its unbuttoned orchestral
virtuosity and definitive mastery especially in the 'Multicoloured Pictures'
movement. The outer movements are longer especially the Finale, thirteen
minutes of orchestral fantasy that eclipses Gade quite imperiously!
Performances by the Omskk Philharmonic are cultured and well drilled if
ultimately not so inspiring. But it is indeed interesting to hear the qualities
of these ensembles in such rare repertoire; the whole release is indeed welcome
in more ways than one. Danacord's recording is exquisitely clear with an
almost brilliant touch to it although the strings are slightly too bright.
Exemplary notes are accompanied by a scathing attack by Danacord owner Jesper
Buhl on the musical establishment. He is only too right and one applauds
his courage at ploughing a lone furrow in this repertoire. Still, the results
are there for all to see and I recommend this issue wholeheartedly.