Langgaard: Lenau Moods; In the Flowering Time; Septet; String Quartet in A flat; Humoresque

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COMPOSERS: Langgaard
LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: Lenau Moods; In the Flowering Time; Septet; String Quartet in A flat; Humoresque
PERFORMER: Annette L Simonsen (mezzo-soprano); Randers CO
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224139
Rued Langgaard was an outsider in Danish music in much the same way as was Havergal Brian in Britain – and as prolific. Neither heard enough of their own music to measure what their inner ear heard against the actual sound they put on paper. Moments of real vision mingle with awkward, even ungainly writing. Langgaard’s output, now all listed in Bendt Viinholt Nielsen’s huge 560-page catalogue, has been extensively recorded in recent years: the five pieces here were written in his twenties. The earliest is the Septet (composed a year after the Fourth Symphony) whose sound-world is close to Dvorák or Brahms. The songs are by far the best things (the first of the Lenau Moods has a melancholy beauty that is quite haunting) and they are well sung. The pastiche Quartet in A flat (1918) is not included among the six numbered quartets Langgaard produced at this time – early Haydn in outlook but not expertise. The Humoresque comes from the same period as Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony, some of whose wind writing as well as the snare drum was an obvious source of inspiration. It is a fascinating and puzzling work, by turns unpredictable and bizarre, at others four-square and crude. The performances are adequate, but fall short of distinction, and this is music that cries out for the most persuasive advocacy. Robert Layton

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