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Knudage Riisager: Symphonic Edition, Vol. 1 / Holten, Aarhus Symphony Orchestra

Riisager / Aarhus Symphony Orchestra / Holten
Release Date: 10/25/2011 
Label:  Dacapo   Catalog #: 8226146   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Knudage Riisager
Conductor:  Bo Holten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aarhus Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Knudage Riisager was a born orchestral composer, and he seemed to understand exactly what kind of writing best suited his natural proclivities. The occasional sudden dissonance, sardonic brass commentary, bright woodwinds, and high-lying violin ostinatos all suggest comedy, and in the four overtures, especially Klods Hans (translated here as "Jack the Dullard") that's exactly what we get. You might think of Riisager as the Danish Malcolm Arnold, without the bitterness and melodrama. The music is rhythmically vivacious, full of good tunes, and wonderfully scored, even without special coloristic effects. Right from Riisager's Op. 1, the overture Erasmus Montanus, you can hear in the brass
Read more chording his splendid feel for sonority.

The First Symphony is a perky, three-movement piece that contemporary critics described as Stravinsky mixed with Puccini, but to modern ears it sounds like neither. It is indeed cast clearly in a neo-classical mode, and there's not a shred of obvious Scandinavian sound--amazing for the date of composition (1925), when Nielsen's influence was strongest in Danish music. It's not perfect--the outer movements could be better sustained--but the sheer charm of the work's ideas carries the day. The performances in this first volume of a projected series of Riisager's symphonic works are first-rate, and so is the engineering. Bo Holten and his players clearly relish the music's color and energy, and I can only welcome this release with great enthusiasm and high hopes for the series as a whole.

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

Danish Pictures (4) by Knudage Riisager
Conductor:  Bo Holten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aarhus Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Denmark 
1. Overture for Erasmus Montanus, op. 1 (c. 1918-1920)
2. Klods Hans (Jack the Dullard), op. 18 (1929)
3. Fastelavn (Carnival), op. 20 (1930)
4. Comoedie, op. 21 (1930) 
Symphony no 1, Op. 8 by Knudage Riisager
Conductor:  Bo Holten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aarhus Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Denmark 

Sound Samples

Erasmus Montanus, Op. 1, "Danish Pictures No. 1"
Klods Hans (Jack the Dullard), Op. 18, "Danish Pictures No. 2"
Symphony No. 1, Op. 8: I. Allegro ritmico e con brio
Symphony No. 1, Op. 8: II. Andante recitativo
Symphony No. 1, Op. 8: III. Allegro focoso
Comoedie, Op. 21, "Danish Pictures No. 4"
Fastelavn (Carnival), Op. 20, "Danish Pictures No. 3"

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