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Len Mullenger:

HARMONIOUS FAMILIES VOL 2. Niels Gade: 'Mariotta', 'Hamlet': Overtures, Capriccio for violin and orchestra, 'Echoes of Ossian'. Axel Gade: Violin Concerto No. 2.    Christina Astrand: violin. Danish Philharmonic Orchestra of South Jutland. Iona Brown. Danacord DACOCD510 65m DDD.
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This is an extremely interesting series focusing on parental relationships in Danish music. We have already had good recordings of some of the works on this present issue but I can confidently recommend Iona Brown's conducting as some of the best I've heard in this repertoire. The short 'Mariotta' Overture bristles and bustles along in typical Gadian post-Mendelssohn fashion whilst the Shakespearean tragedies of 'Hamlet' are intimately well-portrayed in this closely miked interpretation.

The short but purposeful 'Capriccio' shows Gade's intricate talents as a violin composer and the young attractive soloist, Christina Astrand is well-attuned to the various virtuosic melodies that permeate the work and I would stake my money that she is a name to watch out for. Indeed, more scholarly wonders percolate her playing of the Axel Gade Concerto, a seminal work that does not deserve the neglect it has unfortunately fallen into. Just less than half-an hour in length, the concerto features some fiendishly difficult solo passagework but there are some wonderful melodies, especially in the deeply felt and noble slow movement.

''Echoes of Ossian' is a popular work and I remember listening to a particularly fine Chandos version a couple of years back. Ioana Brown and the Jutland Orchestra are well-attuned to the spirit of the overture and the typically Danish atmosphere is beautifully caught. Danacord have provided an excellent recording balance and copious notes inform the listener with extremely detailed biographical details. You may not be discovering masterworks here but the whole project is commendable nonetheless.



Gerald Fenech



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