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.
The Complete Works for Orchestra by M. K. Čiurlionis - amazing, unique, immensely talented Lithuanian musician and painter.
Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994) was the pre-eminent member of a group of Polish composers that came to prominence after the Second World War and whose artistic advancement was given impetus by the death of Stalin in 1953. The works in this set cover four decades of Lutosławski's career and include most of his important orchestral works, starting with the early Symphonic Variations, his first and second symphonies and the Concerto for Orchestra, perhaps his best-known work.
The violin concertos of Belgian-born composer/virtuoso Henri Vieuxtemps have been recorded by various players, including the young Russian-American virtuoso Misha Keylin heard here. But these shorter pieces, which would have been the stock-in-trade of Vieuxtemps' active touring life (during one American tour he made 121 appearances in six months, without benefit of planes, automobiles, or in many cases trains), are a good deal rarer. They don't have the main virtue of the concertos, which is that there's a certain amount of structural interest to go with the Paganini-like fireworks, but they're a great deal of fun.
Swan Lake was the first of Tchaikovsky's three great ballets– works which added a new level of depth and sophistication to what had been a purely superficial art form. Today the music is so well-known and popular that it's impossible to comprehend the difficulties the composer experienced at early performances. Audiences found the music "too symphonic," and the dancers were put off by the prominence given to the orchestra which, they felt, distracted ballet fans from the action on stage. Of course, all of these supposed "defects" are precisely what we admire about the music today, and this elegant but exciting performance reveals the music in all of its glory.