LANGGAARD: Symphony No. 2 "Varbrud" (Awakening of Spring). Symphony
No. 3 "Ungdomsbrus - La Melodia" (The Flush of Youth)
MASSENET: Amoureuse - Sacred and Profane Arias
SCHUMANN: Waldszenen, Op. 82. Fantasie in C, Op. 17. Fantaisiestücke,
About four years ago S.G.S. reviewed Dacapo's issue of Langgaard's Symphony No. 4 and two versions of Symphony No. 5 (see REVIEW). The SACD issue of Symphonies 12 and 13 also has been REVIEWED. Now we have this intriguing addition to the label's continuing series, containing Symphonies 2 and 3. Both are strange works, rather symphonic poems than symphonies, No. 3 really a quite rambling piano concerto with a chorus in the final pages. It began life as a work for solo piano, Langgaard saying that "the music symbolizes something in the world of music that words cannot express....the work is an expression of truth-seeking artistic creative power, symbolized by an eternal flame...." (whatever that means). There are three connected movements, and the chorus, without text, appears only in the final pages. There is a text for the conclusion of Symphony No. 2 in which soprano and chorus sing a text by Emil Rittershaus ("Spring Sounds") descriptive of an idyllic scene with sunshine, trees and singing larks. The composer's titles for both ("Awakening of Spring" for Symphony No. 2, "The Flush of Youth" for No. 3) give you a pretty good idea of what to expect. Dausgaard and the fine Danish orchestra are in top form, and SACD sonics are what we have come to expect from Dacapo.
Melba's Amoureuse ("Sacred and Profane Arias") SACD is a collection of songs and other works of Massenet, some religious, some erotic, covering the composer's entire composing career. Producers have managed to alternate moods, but there is still an element of sameness, almost too much of a good thing. Some works are presented with piano, and throughout we have profuse documentation and informative program notes about each excerpt along with complete texts in French and English. Richard Bonynge, a specialist in things obscure, was a major factor in this issue, and is heard both as conductor and pianist. Rosamund Illing, one of Australia's leading sopranos, impresses in this music. The recording was made in 1998 and has been remastered for "surround sound," producing a highly resonant sonic picture. If you're interested in this repertory, here it is, very well presented in a luxurious jewel-box.
French pianist Nicolas Bringuier (b. 1980) makes his recording debut on the Audite label with a fine Schumann collection consisting of the Fantasy in C, Op. 17, Forest Scenes, Op. 82, and three Fantasy Pieces, Op. 111. The "surround sound" is bigger than life with, as in most piano recordings in the medium, the piano omnipresent. Audite could have included more music; 60:32 is rather short playing time.
R.E.B. (July 2007)