Knudåge Riisager: The Symphonic Edition Vol. 2
03 July 2013
The Infodad Team
The new Dacapo CD of works by Knudåge Riisager (1897-1974), labeled as Volume 2 of “The Symphonic Edition
” of the composer’s works, contains no fewer than five world première recordings: every piece here has never been recorded before. Riisager, although not especially popular outside Denmark, was a composer with a wide variety of interests, and one who worked with skill in numerous forms.
His one-movement Symphony No. 2
(1927) is quite compact and shows fine command of the orchestra. His Symphony No. 3
(1935), which he called Sinfonia
even though it is longer than his second and is in three movements, is an exceptionally turbulent work, its movements labeled, respectively, Feroce, Violento e fantastico
, and Tumultuoso
– there is indeed very little respite to be found here. Concerto for Orchestra
(1931) does not give the orchestra the sort of workout that listeners have come to expect since hearing Bartók’s later work with the same title, but it is an effective suite with some good writing for individual sections. Primavera—Concert Overture
(1934) is a short and pleasant enough work. And T-DOXC (poème mécanique) for orchestra
is unusual: a tribute to the then-new world of airplanes, this 1926 piece will remind some listeners of Edgard Varèse in its frank celebration of mechanization and human ingenuity in the creation of machines.
There is a restlessness to Riisager’s music that makes it hard to pin down to a single style, with his more-intense works (here, Sinfonia
) tending to be more compelling than his emotive ones, although the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra under Bo Holten plays all the works idiomatically and with fine attention to detail. As a sampler of the composer’s early-but-mature style, this CD offers those interested in Riisager’s music a chance to hear just how varied his productions could be within a relatively short period of time.