WORKS: Symphony No. 1 in F (Symphonie poétique); Symphony No. 2 in C minor (Symphonie tragique)
PERFORMER: Helsingborg SO/Thomas Dausgaard
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224076
Known to trumpeters for his contribution to the limited repertoire for their instrument, the Danish composer Knudåge Riisager (1897-1974) was primarily successful in his lifetime as a ballet composer. This enterprising release from Dacapo now introduces both the Concertino for trumpet and strings and several ballet suites to a much wider audience. A French influence – the legacy of lessons with Roussel – is unmistakable and the sultry world of Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune is conjured in Riisager’s Darduse dances from the fairytale play by Johannes V Jensen.
The two Fools’ Paradise Suites, popular burlesques in neo-classical style, show an indebtedness to Prokofiev, but without his acerbic irony. The Concertino itself, a frothy, light-hearted and insubstantial work, is given a sparkling performance by virtuoso Håkan Hardenberger.
The somewhat bright sound of the recording serves to accentuate the naive character of the music, and heard in one sitting this well-filled disc outstays its welcome.
A more serious face is presented, from a slightly earlier period of Danish music history, by Asger Hamerik (1843-1923), who was the leading composer of his era after Gade. Neither of his first two symphonies could be called a masterpiece, but they are enjoyable enough in these lively performances under Thomas Dausgaard. Deborah Calland