Knudåge Riisager: Violin Works
01 September 2013
David FanningThat Riisager knew his way around the violin is clear
from the Bricconata
(' Prank') and Palavas (a slightly more heavyfooted version of Bazzini's Le roude des lutin
). Both date from the early 1950s, just before Riisager came out of retirement to direct the Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen. These jeux d'esprit
are interspersed with mildly charming genre pieces from his student years (as a political scientist rather than musician).
Two sonatas give the disc ballast. The Second Sonata for violin and piano grafts on some of the French influences Riisager encountered in a study trip to Paris in 1923, adopting a restless post-Debussian tone. Moving forward again to 1951, the three-movement Sonata for two violins is for me the most rewarding work on the disc, but the warmly expressive Concertino for five violins and piano of 1933 is no mere curiosity either. Some of the credit for the confident stride of both works probably goes to the composer's period of study in Leipzig with Hermann Grabner (teacher of Geirr Tveitt and many others, and incidentally a card-carrying Nazi). No less impressive are the artistry and dedication lavished on the programme by all the performers.