Knudåge Riisager: The Symphonic Edition Vol. 2
01 September 2013
David FanningThe orchestral disc kicks off with a post-Honegger exercise in style mécanique
, celebrating a light commercial aircraft introduced into Denmark in 1926, the year of composition. More precisely, T-DOXC
evokes 'mental sensations' inspired by the aeroplane, which makes for an intriguing balance between onomatopoeia and emotional reaction. The 15-minute single-movement Second Symphony
from the following year begins with a comparable acceleration towards a drama that never quite materialises. That sense of unfulfilled promise struck reviewers at the time, and it is a syndrome that afflicts Riisager's music time and again.
From the movement titles (Feroce, Violento e fantastico, Tumultuoso), the Third Symphony would seem to be a true product of its time (1935). In fact the middle movement has an extended period of mysterious calm and the outer ones no sooner broach serious issues than they shy away from them. Yet again, this is a work that promises more than it ultimately delivers. Still, there is something about Riisager's habitual short-windedness that suggests an individual sensibility and invites one to persist.
Far from an orchestral showpiece, the Concerto for Orchestra actually feels more like a concerto grosso, recalling Hindemith's earlier example of the genre rather than the later Bartok, Lutoslawski or Tippett. Completing the disc is the sprightly overture Primavera, which characteristically vacillates benveen pastoral warmth and something tougher and more disturbing. As before, Bo Holten and the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra manage to negotiate these tricky scores with a minimum of rough edges and even to give an impression of seasoned acquaintance. As usual with Dacapo, recording and documentation are exemplary.