Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:


String Quartet No.3 (Miro String Quartet);

Violin Concerto1
5 Songs2
1Odense Symphony Orchestra/Jan Wagner with Saeka Matsuyama, violin
2Lars Thodberg Bertelsen with Frode Stengaard, piano
Bridge 9100 [62 mins]

As a memento for people who attended the Danish wave '99 Festival in New York this selection of live concert recordings will be an essential purchase. My interest was aroused by the inclusion of the concise third string quartet (actually his seventh!) of Rued Langgaard (1893-1952). A frustrated loner, 'forced to exist on the periphery of the Danish artistic milieu', I have found his music always rewarding. When young he composed music looking far ahead; later, music which sounded by then out of date. This radical quartet of 1924 has a first movement rapinoso (rapaciously!), a short scherzo and a third marked spodsk (mocking) which embeds a chorale melody in incongruous modernistic fragments. Absorbing, and well played and recorded by a prize-winning young American quartet. (The Nielsen songs recorded at the same concert are less happy, either as compositions or in this rendering.)

In conjunction with the Danish wave '99 the Carl Nielsen Violin Competition, normally held in Odense close to Nielsen's birthplace, was transplanted to New York. Saeka Matsuyama was the Silver Medallist (they often go on to more successful careers than the winners, e.g. Victoria Postnikova) and we are told nothing about the first prizewinner that year. I was captivated by her performance of the Nielsen concerto, which is so overshadowed by Sibelius's, and thought this made an ideal claim for its inclusion in the 'canon' of 20.C violin concertos. The orchestra naturally has the music in its blood, and this18 yr old Julliard student spins a lovely line with complete assurance. The balance is as I like it, with the violin not too forward, and I don't need another version for my collection.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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