LABELS: Da Capo
ALBUM TITLE: Enna, Zemlinsky
WORKS: The Little Match Girl (Enna)
PERFORMER: Inger Dam-Jensen, Ylva Kihlberg (soprano); Danish National Chorus & SO/Thomas Dausgaard
CATALOGUE NO: 8.226048
In his lifetime, August Enna was one of Denmark’s best-known music theatre composers, his Wagnerian grand operas played throughout Europe. By his death in 1939 he was a largely forgotten casualty of Modernism, remembered only by his delightful Hans Christian Andersen-based miniatures, the ballet Shepherdess and Chimney-Sweep, and this full-scale opera, The Little Match Girl. Barely forty minutes long, it has a flavour of Danish hymns and folk-songs, and an awareness of the Dickensian social conscience underlying Andersen’s tales, written when Denmark’s poor were among the most wretched in Europe.
This new version, recorded live at one of the Andersen bicentenary concerts in 2005, complements CPO’s studio recording; they’re both excellent. Dam-Jensen and CPO’s Henriette Bonde-Hansen are equally touching heroines; the conducting, chorus and playing likewise, though CPO’s recording is perhaps slightly richer. The choice would rest mostly on the coupling – either CPO’s delicate Shepherdess, or the more grandiose Zemlinsky, another great Andersen-inspired piece. As in his Chandos recording, Dausgaard and his forces lend this richly Viennese score a breezy Baltic freshness which I personally prefer to more Germanic interpretations, making this an appropriately magical and rewarding disc. Michael Scott Rohan