Rued Langgaard: Symfonierne
16 January 2009
Langgaard was out of his mind. Was he a crazy genius, or
just plain crazy? It's hard to say. His 16 symphonies range
in length from one hour (No. 1) to slightly more than six
minutes (No. 11). There's a concertante work for solo
piano, chorus, and orchestra (No. 3), music of Straussian
refulgence (No. 6 "The Heaven-Rending"), some quirky
faux Mendelssohn (Nos. 8 and 9), and lots of nature
poetry (Nos. 2, 4, 5, 15, and 16). Most of the works have
fanciful titles, ranging from No. 10 "Yon Hall of Thunder"
to the religious mysticism of "Belief in Wonders" (No.
13), to No. 14's individual movements, such as "Dads rush
to the office" and "Radio-Caruso and forced energy".
God only knows what all of it means, but one thing is
certain: it's all tremendously entertaining and never dull.
The individual discs in this set have all been issued
previously, most of them welcomed here enthusiastically.
Thomas Dausgaard and his team deliver uniformly
excellent performances captured in first-rate SACD stereo
sonics. The packaging in this boxed set is really classy,
with slip-cases that unfold when the top is opened, and a
neatly printed booklet with informative notes and
translations of the sung texts that stores in its own
compartment. It's great to see a national label working so
hard and so successfully to preserve its cultural heritage
and disseminate it abroad. This project both deserves and
will reward your support.