Rued Langgaard: String Quartets Vol. 1
26 March 2012
Peter Grahame Woolf
This is a notable debut disc from a young Danish Quartet, to bring us the first of three CDs of quartets by the maverick Danish outsider, Rued Langgaard (1893-1952) - little appreciated in his own country during his lifetime.
Knowledge of his music remains patchy in UK (we have reviewed his opera Antichrist) and his extensive unpublished oeuvre is slowly seeing the light of day, long after the music's composition and the composer's death.
Some marvellous music, the idiom of these quartets varies between the classical (Variations on Oh, Sacred Head - ineffable, reminds you of late Beethoven quartets !) to the wild Train passing by from Quartet No 2 anticipating Honegger's Pacific 231.
No 3 is the most 'advanced' of these; "the most wildly experimental Danish music before Nielsens No 6 symphony..." Performances and recordings for Dacapo are exemplary, with the English notes by an English (?) translator and all the background information you could want.
A treasure trove, with the youthful Nightingale String Quartet (democratically sharing the leader's desk) well placed to have secured such an important contract , with many of his 400 works still awaiting publication in the Rued Langgaard Edition.
In London for the launch of this disc [illustrated, with Cecilie Rosenmeier of Dacapo] it was a pleasure to meet and talk with these young ladies who have, of course, excellent English, and to meet their mentor and coach, eminent violist Tim Frederiksen.
The Nightingales seek another prize here, next week at the London International String Quartet Competition 2012 - Bartok No 2, but no Langgaard !