COMPOSERS: Grainger,Hamerik,Louis Glass,Sehested
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Danish Music for Cello and Piano
WORKS: Three Fantasy Pieces; Concert-Romanze; Romance, Op. 75; Cello Sonata, Op. 5; La scandinavie
PERFORMER: Morten Zeuthen (cello)Amalie Malling (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224052
Here is a portrait of Danish musical life in the early years of this century. There is nothing of the backwater bumpkin in Hilda Sehested, Louis Glass and Asger Hamerik, however, all of whom studied and worked abroad. Grainger may seem the odd one out, until you remember that he, too, studied composition in Germany at the same time.
Sehested and Hamerik seem to have been characters of resolve and imagination, even if Sehested failed to make any real impact on the Danish music scene despite her Paris training, bold pieces for trombone and cornet, and an opera Agnete and the Merman, unperformed to this day. Her Fantasy Pieces, structured in a loose Lied form, owe a debt to Schumann but exude a robust charm of their own. Hamerik studied orchestration with Berlioz. Yet in this indulgent Concert Romanze individual character is rather swamped in rhetoric.
The best tunes are not surprisingly to be found in Grainger’s delightful folk-based suite La scandinavie. Zeuthen’s brio is infectious in these exuberant dances and ballads, but too often their virtuosity defeats him: there are some excruciating octave passages and chordal sequences.
Louis Glass (1864-1936) was a pupil of Gade, and had the biggest impact on Danish musical life of the three here. It was he who introduced Franck’s music to the city, and the influence of the Belgian master is clear in his heroic, high-Romantic Sonata. The jaunty, modal Romance, written at the end of his life, points towards a refined impressionism and receives the best performance on this rather uneven disc. Helen Wallace