Enna, Zemlinsky

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Enna,Zemlinsky
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.

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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