Thursday, June 1, 2017

Børresen, Hakon. (1876-1954) Symphony No 1 & other orchestral works.

From my collection
Bought in May 2017.
First listen: 8-9-2007.
Second listen: 1-6-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: January 1998.
Recording venue: Großer Sendesaal, Halberg, Germany.
Recording engineer: Erich Heigold.
Running time: 74:04.
Relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 1, opus 3 in C minor. (1901)
Serenade for Horn, Strings, and Timpani. (1944)
Nordic Folk Tunes for String orchestra. (1949)

Performed by:
Xiao Ming Han, Horn.
Stephan Böhnlein, Timpani.
Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken, Ole Schmidt.

Ole Schmidt was a formidable conductor who died in 2010, 81 years old. These recordings made in 1998, are full of fire and vigour, and with a youthful extrovert expression.  A great contrast in dynamics, a full romantic intensity, and  a energy level with a lot of punch. Very committed playing all around. Schmidt is acutely aware of this music and treats it royally.
Compared to the recent Dacapo recordings I heard with the Aalborg SO under Hughes, you simply get more of this composer in all departments from Schmidt. Artistically they are comparable, but the result of all the efforts is totally different.
Schmidt has more attention to the various details, brings greater contrast through accurate dynamics, has a better ear for secondary melody lines, and brings out more of Børresen's romantic nature as Hughes does. For there is not a speck of modernity in Børresen's work.  The CPO recordings have a higher voltage all around, and the broader sound picture this recording is giving, makes for a more effective portrayal of this music.
The first symphony is well orchestrated, as are all the works on this CD. I always wondered why the third movement is a joyful Allegro molto Scherzando, and the fourth movement ends in an Adagio lamentabile. There is however not a weak link in this highly expressive symphony. Plenty of delight, with vivid contrasts, and a virtuosity that is truly pleasing to the ear as well your heart. The symphony is brilliantly judged by Schmidt, and he is highly responsive to the work's musical nuances.
The serenade I never heard before. When the first movement starts you may think that this is a lightweight composition, but this dream is over as soon as you are a minute or so in. A highly complex and virtuosic work. Fiendishly difficult to play, it is an aural delight, and carries an emotional intensity that culminates in the second movement to great heights. At one side it has a dynamism, and on the other side a sumptuous array of crisp and incisive melodies. 
The Nordic Folk Tunes is an amazing piece in 3 movements, each of them a gem. They are deeply intense, with a very personal sense of melancholy. The translucency and breathless energy of the textures, especially in the third movement, Marcato e con ritmo, is invigorating.  The eloquent second movement, Moderato, has a restrained expressivity, in with the folk background comes vividly to the fore. I admire this work.
The sound is full, and has a good front to back image. The orchestra plays well under Schmidt.




Koechlin, Charles. (1867-1950) Piano Works Volume I. ....des Jardins enchantés.

New acquisition. Bought in June 2017. First listen: 27-6-2017. Label: Hanssler Classics. Recording dates: December 2007. Recording venu...