Wellejus

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Wellejus
LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: Cello Concerto; Oboe Concerto; Concerto chorégraphique; Concerto piccolo; A Danish Summer Pastorale; Our Childhood Friends; The Stagecoach Rolls Away
PERFORMER: Morten Zeuthen (cello), Nette Stormlund Demant (oboe); Danish Radio Concert Orchestra/Peter Ettrup Larsen
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224040
Here we have a pair of lesser-known Danish composers. Born in 1928, Ole Schmidt is largely familiar as a conductor. His Chamber Symphony (1960) and Hommage à Franz Liszt (1973) sound like pastiches of Thirties and early Forties neo-classical Britten. Darker and more chromatic, the still rather vacuous Concerto for Flute and Strings (1984) is interesting mainly as a vehicle for the skills of Susan Milan. Schmidt’s Wind Quintet (1991), more straightforwardly neo-classical again, is given added spirit by its Copenhagen players. The Royal Northern College CO is a capable student band but, understandably, it can’t effect transformations.

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Henning Wellejus, born in 1919, I had not previously heard of at all. Five of the seven compositions on this well-packed CD date from the Fifties and early Sixties, when his output seems to have resembled the more nostalgic varieties of British light music of the period. Quite imaginatively scored, none of them is, however, at all memorable. Neither is the Concerto chorégraphique (1978), the longest work here, though its ventures into Gershwin territory at least give it more zip; nor the recent Cello Concerto, Wellejus’s uneasy, but mercifully brief attempt to extend his early ‘serious’ style. Music of such limited scope needs keener, clearer playing and recording to make much impact. Keith Potter