Langgaard: Symphony No. 6 (The Heaven-Rending); Symphony No. 7; Symphony No. 8 (Memories at Amalienborg)

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COMPOSERS: Langgaard
LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: Symphony No. 6 (The Heaven-Rending); Symphony No. 7; Symphony No. 8 (Memories at Amalienborg)
PERFORMER: Danish National RSO & Choir/Thomas Dausgaard
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224180
The Sixth Symphony is the most recorded of Langgaard’s 16 symphonies – and the most visionary. Composed in 1919-20 and revised in 1928-30, it derives its inspiration from a poem by Hans Adolf Brorson and St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (‘Then Jesus used force and drove the storming armies of evil under the canopy of heaven’). It offers music of real imagination and originality, even if its overall symphonic coherence is more questionable. The Seventh, on the other hand, appears for the first time. (The version Ilya Stupel recorded comes from 1930-32 whereas this is the 1926 version, listed as missing in Bendt Viinholt Nielsen’s Annotated Catalogue, but recently discovered.) There is less of an individual stamp here: indeed, the middle movements sound like a series of footnotes to a Schumann symphony. The Eighth, which occupied him for eight years (1927-34), honours Amalienborg in whose precincts Langgaard made his debut as an organist in 1905. Its language is close to Mendelssohn and Gade, and in its curious way, is quite endearing even if there is scant sense of the kind of mastery you encounter in a great symphonist. I can’t imagine any partnership more likely to convince you in these strange pieces than Dausgaard and the fine Danish Radio Orchestra, which plays with enthusiasm and commitment. Expertly balanced and lifelike sound. Robert Layton