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Riisager: Benzin / Hughes, Danish National Symphony


Release Date: 05/27/2008 
Label:  Dacapo   Catalog #: 6220527   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Knudage Riisager
Conductor:  Owain Arwel Hughes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

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If there ever is to be a twinge of international interest in Knudage Riisager, then recordings like this will be essential in spreading the word. For my money, he is Denmark's finest composer after Nielsen, and he couldn't be more different. A student (in the widest sense) of Les Six with a penchant for ballet, Riisager shows in his music all of the qualities of his French colleagues: brilliant, glittering orchestration, immaculate craftsmanship, a shapely sense of form, and that rarest of all qualities, a sense of humor.

This last quality is particularly evident in the ballet Benzin (1928), a light
Read more romp featuring a love triangle that evolves during a trip to the gas station. Predictably, as a self-proclaimed "joke", the work was a flop at its premiere, but the music is delicious, sort of like Poulenc's Les Biches set in the Danish countryside. Archaeopteryx, as the name suggests, is a musical "fossil", a static but timbrally intriguing essay in shadowy orchestral colors. On the other hand, To Apollo, God of Light is a vivid and coruscating tone poem that aptly sums up Riisager's career as an orchestral colorist. The idiom is exuberantly dissonant, but never gratuitously so, and full of memorable ideas that grip you from the first note and never let go. It was Riisager's last completed major orchestral work (1972).

As with previous discs in this series, the performances rise to the challenges that Riisager presents to his players. Owain Arwel Hughes leads his excellent orchestra with evident enthusiasm (and why not?), while the SACD sonics are very good. Note, however, that the tray card reverses the order of Achaeopteryx (it comes second) and To Apollo (which concludes the disc). Otherwise, this release does Riisager proud. I wonder when we'll get to hear his symphonies?

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Benzin, Op. 17 by Knudage Riisager
Conductor:  Owain Arwel Hughes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928 
Length: 42 Minutes 59 Secs. 
2.
Til Apollon, Lysets Gud by Knudage Riisager
Conductor:  Owain Arwel Hughes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 16 Minutes 47 Secs. 
3.
Archæopteryx, Op. 51 by Knudage Riisager
Conductor:  Owain Arwel Hughes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 10 Minutes 35 Secs. 

Featured Sound Samples

Benzin: Overture
Benzin: VIII. Fiskerdans

Sound Samples

Benzin, Op. 17: Overture
Benzin, Op. 17: Pastorale
Benzin, Op. 17: Hostdans
Benzin, Op. 17: Traeskodans
Benzin, Op. 17: Prokuratoren
Benzin, Op. 17: Marcia funebre
Benzin, Op. 17: Cykeldans
Benzin, Op. 17: Fiskerdans
Benzin, Op. 17: Ved Benzintanken
Benzin, Op. 17: Rivalerne
Benzin, Op. 17: Forsoningen
Benzin, Op. 17: Vaegteren
Benzin, Op. 17: Manen
Archaeopteryx, Op. 51
til Apollon, Lysets Gud: Til Apollon, Lysets Gud

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