WORKS: The Little Match Girl; The Shepherdess and the Chimney-Sweep
PERFORMER: Henriette Bonde-Hansen, Gitta-Maria Sjöberg, Frits Helmuth; Sokkelund Choir, Danish Radio Sinfonietta & Girls Choir/Roman Zeilinger
CATALOGUE NO: 999 595-2
Though he’s forgotten today outside his native Denmark, several of the stage-works of August Enna had a wider currency during his lifetime (1859-1939). Most successful of all was his 35-minute opera The Little Match Girl (1897), based on Hans Andersen and drawing on an old-fashioned blend of Italian, German and Danish musical idioms to tell its sentimental tale with an effectiveness that transcends its lack of originality. First performed in Copenhagen, it went on to enjoy stagings throughout northern Europe up to the Thirties.
Also based on the famous Danish writer’s work is the ballet The Shepherdess and the Chimney-Sweep (1900), one of five by the composer taking Andersen as its source. Here again the score is mostly slight, if not trite, though the workmanship neat. Andersen’s poem is read in between and sometimes over the top of the movements, which may prove wearing for non-Danish speakers (a translation is provided in the booklet).
Elsewhere there’s some attractive if monochrome singing from Henriette Bonde-Hansen as the eponymous match girl, and a more grandly voiced contribution from Gitta-Maria Sjöberg as the Lady. Careful choral and orchestral work throughout from local forces under the baton of Roman Zeilinger. George Hall