WORKS: Symphony in E flat; Symphony No 4 in B flat
PERFORMER: Danish National RSO/ Christopher Hogwood
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9609
A forgotten luminary of the ‘Danish Golden Age’ once highly regarded for his vaudevilles and ballets (the favourite entertainment of a Copenhagen society as enamoured as the Viennese with dance), Johannes Frederik Frøhlich (1806-60) was the son of an émigré German bandsman fleeing the Napoleonic Wars. Heralding a revival of Danish interest in the genre pre-Hartmann/Gade, his unpublished E flat Symphony (Rome, 1830), contemporary with Berlioz’s Fantastique, is music transcending, late-Schubert-like, the fashions and decorum of a generation brought up on Spohr, Weber and Rossini. Wearing its learning lightly, it’s a tautly argued structure, its independence underlined by some vivid orchestration – from the rattling drums and folksy, tipsy burlesque of a scherzo-style ‘minuet’ (placed second) to expressively highlighted wind solos, imaginatively free-wheeling valve horns and grand tuttis. A real discovery.
Given Dacapo’s pre-eminence in resurrecting Danish music, this premiere recording is a significant coup for Chandos – the only reservation being the brisk speed at which Hogwood takes the third movement, a quasi funeral march. Crowned by a poetically charged andante, his exultant grasp of Gade’s galvanisingly characterful Fourth Symphony (1849-50), more sumptuously grained and spaciously balanced than Schønwandt (faster too), has the Danish National Radio SO in full cry. Ates Orga