With his symphonies the Danish composer Rued Langgaard offered 16 vastly different versions of what a symphony can be. His captivating, complex genius made room for all conceivable idioms and a wealth of styles ranging from the grandiosely Late Romantic to the purest Absurdism. This box is the first collected recording of Langgaard's 16 symphonies based on the critical edition of the scores; recordings which demonstrate, with spectacular sound quality, Langgaards masterly grasp of the orchestra and his ecstatic view of art: "Mr. Dausgaard's keen advocacy elicits polished, persuasive accounts that live up to Langgaard's motto: 'Long Live Beauty'", wrote The New York Times.
At a mere five minutes, Arvo Pärt's Summa is actually the shortest composition on this CD. But, for its sheer, austere beauty, the work makes a fitting introduction to this orchestral disc. Pärt's trademark "tintinnabulation" style is in full effect on this sublime recording. Each of these works sounds simple and minimalist, yet also achingly profound. In Pärt's Symphony No. 3 (the earliest piece here, dating from 1971), the roots of his groundbreaking technique are just beginning to take shape: the ringing of bells, the calculated tension, and the hints of early music all add to the three-movement work's drama.
Sibelius's choral music is deeply felt, nationalistic, and stirring. Subject matter ranges from the glory of the Northern lights (in "Oma maa" [Our Native Land]) to the Swedish-language "Sandels," in which a general, seemingly a coward, leads his men to victory through patience and odd timing, to the glories of the Earth ("Maan virsi"), to tales of characters from Finnish folklore. Most are for male choir, a couple are for mixed choir, and all are acompanied by large orchestra. Sibelius's ablity to tell a story is remarkable (it makes one wish he'd been more interested in opera), and desite the similarity in the forces used, the effects here are varied, from rousing to elegaic, to simply entertaining.