Irgens-Jensen: Japanischer Frühling; Passacaglia; Pastorale religioso; Canto d’omaggio

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COMPOSERS: Irgens-Jensen
LABELS: Simax
WORKS: Japanischer Frühling; Passacaglia; Pastorale religioso; Canto d’omaggio
PERFORMER: Ragnhild Heiland Sørensen (soprano); Bergen PO/Eivind Aadland
CATALOGUE NO: PSC 1164
Ludvig Irgens-Jensen (1894-1969) belongs to the same generation of Norwegian composers as Harald Sæverud and, like Sæverud, his music is fresh, at times folk-inspired, tonal and neo-classical in feeling. The best thing here is the Japanischer Frühling, a cycle of nine songs adapted from the Japanese by Hans Bethge, whose Chinese poems Mahler had set in Das Lied von der Erde. Written in 1920, it was Irgens-Jensen’s Op. 2 and a beautiful piece, scored most expertly in 1957. It has the simplicity of Mahler and Grieg, and Ragnhild Heiland Sørensen is as eloquent a soloist as Karin Langebo on an earlier LP.

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The Passacaglia for orchestra (1927) is a dignified work, and attracted the plaudits of Carl Nielsen, no less, even if it rather outstays its welcome. The Canto d’omaggio (1950) is a pièce d’occasion, but inventive and often imaginative, though it is not free from bombast. The elegiac Pastorale religioso (1939) is quite affecting, and, like its companions on this disc, very well played. What we now need is his masterpiece, the unpretentious and delightful Partita sinfonica, which would be a popular hit if it were given the chance. Robert Layton