Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Classical FINDS 2 – The Naxos Weblog


The first instalment in our temporary survey of music from the Nordic nations – Finland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden [FINDS] – featured composers from Iceland and Sweden. This version showcases music by a choice of Danish composers, whom we’ll introduce in broadly chronological order.

Friedrich Kuhlau

Friedrich Kuhlau
© HNH Worldwide

We begin with Friedrich Kuhlau (1786–1832) who, though he was German-born, definitely qualifies as a feather in Denmark’s hat. We’ll hear pianist Jens Lühr carry out a few of his music sooner or later, so I’ll let him introduce the composer:

“Friedrich Kuhlau, along with Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse (1774–1842), was an important early Romantic composer in Denmark, the place his fame is especially primarily based on the overture and incidental music he composed for Elverhøj (Elves’ Hill), a theatre piece by Johan Ludvig Heiberg. Exterior of Denmark he’s higher recognized at present for his standard piano sonatinas and flute works.

Born in 1786 at Uelzen within the district of Decrease Saxony in Germany, his household subsequently moved to Hamburg, from the place he fled in 1810 to Copenhagen to be able to keep away from conscription into the Napoleonic Military, which occupied Hamburg from 1806 to 1814. In 1813 he turned a Danish citizen and was engaged as a royal chamber musician.

Kuhlau’s comparatively low revenue compelled him to write down quite a lot of easy-to-play music for piano and compositions for flute, two of the preferred devices at the moment. He went on to be broadly thought-about the ‘Danish Beethoven’ or the ‘Beethoven of the flute’, since his appreciation for the good composer is obvious in his type of writing, though this appreciation by no means approaches plagiarism.”

To reveal the purpose, right here’s the exposition of the primary motion of Kuhlau’s virtuosic Piano Sonata in E flat main, which he composed two years after settling in Denmark.

Piano Sonata in E flat main (GP797)

Subsequent we’ve got a pair of composers who lived on the similar time however engaged in fully completely different types of music – Niels Wilhelm Gade (1817–1890) and Hans Christian Lumbye (1810–1874).

Niels Wilhelm Gade

Niels Wilhelm Gade
Photograph: Hansen, Schou & Weller

Gade began his musical profession as a violinist within the Danish Royal Orchestra, his first success as a composer coming in 1840 along with his overture Echoes of Ossian. His First Symphony was accepted by Mendelssohn and carried out by the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, the place Gade met each Mendelssohn and Schumann. He succeeded Mendelssohn as conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1847, returning the next yr to Denmark, the place he got here to imagine a number one place within the musical lifetime of the nation, writing music in a method drastically influenced by Mendelssohn and Schumann.

Gade melded Nordic spirit with the strategy of the Germanic masters, not least in his three violin sonatas: the light-fingered First, devoted to Clara Schumann; the mercurial Second, devoted to Robert Schumann; and the weighty Third with its beautiful Romanze, which we now hear.

Romanze (8.570524)

Hans Christian Lumbye

Hans Christian Lumbye
Supply: Wikimedia Commons – Public Area

Lumbye wrote in a a lot lighter type. He inaugurated concert events within the method of Johann Strauss in his native Copenhagen after listening to the Viennese bands of Joseph Lanner and the elder Strauss. Main his orchestra whereas enjoying the violin, he offered leisure at Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. He wrote a big amount of enticing dance music within the method that Lanner and Strauss had made standard, together with waltzes, polkas, galops and marches.

The next story, as handed down by Lumbye’s grandchild, describes the genesis of his Champagne Galop, written in 1845: One night Lumbye had been invited to a prestigious gathering on the British Legation in Copenhagen, however on his manner there he needed to move his favorite hostelry, and determined that he most well-liked to spend the night in these acquainted environment. On returning residence late within the night he needed to inform his household how he had wallowed in champagne on the Legation (which he had the truth is by no means visited). As an example this for the expectant household he sat down on the piano and improvised his manner by what was later to change into the world-famous Champagne Galop.

Champagne Galop (8.556843)

Carl Nielsen

Carl Nielsen
© HNH Worldwide

Carl Nielsen (1865–1931) was the principal post-Romantic Danish composer. Following subsidised research on the Copenhagen Conservatory, he went on to take pleasure in a protracted profession throughout which he developed his personal private type of composition, specifically in a collection of six essential symphonies.These are primarily tonal, emotionally direct works that alternate lengthy melodic strains with passages of blazing vitality. Symphony No. 4, ‘The Inextinguishable’, is his most dramatic and conveys ‘the basic will to stay’.

Written between 1916 and 1918, The Fourth employs a big orchestra, together with two units of timpani, which make a selected contribution to the Allegro finale, wherein the forces of battle and battle are lastly resolved, proclaiming music and the desire to stay as inextinguishable, though occasions in Europe on the time would possibly too simply have recommended solely despair. Right here’s how the symphony attracts to a detailed in a 1966 efficiency by the Royal Danish Orchestra carried out by Igor Markevitch.

Symphony No. 4 (VOX-NX-2001)

Rued Langgaard

Rued Langgaard

Organist and composer Rued Langgaard (1893–1952) was born in Copenhagen. His father, a pianist and composer, had been a pupil of Liszt. Largely self-taught as a composer, Rued had early success in Berlin, when performances of his works got by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, whereas Danish critics remained sceptical. He was profitable in Germany, whereas at residence his works have been broadcast; in any other case he had little assist.

Langgaard’s music reveals an affinity with that of Russian composer Alexander Scriabin in that each males believed that by their music they may pave the way in which for a non secular revolution. Langgaard explored his youthful fascination with Catholicism in music of fanaticism and ecstasy.

Langgaard’s Music of the Abyss was composed in Venice in March 1921 (the place he additionally gained inspiration for his doomsday opera Antichrist). As within the opera, Langgaard offers with among the most damaging forces in time and existence. Based mostly on a collection of apocalyptic visions taken from The E-book of Revelation, he paints the horrors of hell in musical pictures. The second of the 2 actions is headed Frenetico, quasi rondo.

Music of the Abyss (8.574312)

Vagn Holmboe

Vagn Holmboe

Vagn Holmboe (1909–1996) is regarded by many as a successor to Carl Nielsen, not least by way of symphonic repertoire; Holmboe wrote 14 symphonies. However I’ve chosen a piece on a a lot smaller scale, his Moya – 7 Japanese Songs, which is his most distinctive work for voice and piano. Composed in 1952, the music explores a brand new kind of accompaniment which along with the quite simple melodic strains creates an unique impact. Within the first 4 songs the piano sounds nearly like a plucked string instrument and the voice like a flute. In Holmboe’s personal phrases:

“Moya is Japanese and means one thing like ’fog’. I’ve not tried to mimic Japanese music, however in some songs there’s a slight suggestion of the clear Koto or Shamisen music which is usually Japanese.”

The primary tune is titled Foggy night. Sung in a Danish translation of the unique Japanese, right here’s an English translation of the textual content:

Each night, when the fog spreads over the meadows and the cranes mournfully name out to one another, I consider my beloved.
Jakamosji (eighth century)

Foggy night (8.572728)

Per Nørgård

Per Nørgård
Supply: Wikimedia Commons – CC BY-SA 4.0

Lastly to a pupil of Holmboe, Per Nørgård (b. 1932), who went on to review in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. Ranging from a method akin to that of Sibelius, he has developed a private musical language of his personal and has exercised a robust affect over youthful contemporaries in Scandinavia. We end with one in every of his choral items, 3 Systrar (Three Sisters). Norgard introduces the work as follows:

3 Systrar dates from 1993, when the Swedish choral conductor Gunnar Eriksson confirmed me Solveig von Schulz’s entreating poem in regards to the three sisters in a single and the identical particular person – one other type of the idea of the ‘simultaneities’ typically current in my music. The secretive whispering that enhances the unclear insinuations of the sung fragments of the textual content might specific the required acceptance that this can be a spoken (or slightly whispered) concern that I, as a person, can by no means totally perceive.”

3 Systrar (SCD1090)

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