Music and Vision homepage

CD Spotlight

A luminous pearl

The symphonies of Rued Langgaard -

'The performances on this disc are excellent.'

Rued Langgaard: Symphonies 6-8. (p) 2001 Dacapo Records


Langgard's music is rarely heard outside Denmark -- and not all that much there either. It doesn't fit easily into any schematic view of the 20th century, particularly if that view presupposes some sort of triumph for Modernism. The man himself always seems to have been an outsider, quarrelling with himself and his own strongly held convictions perhaps not enough, but making up for it with a life-long struggle against the musical establishment.

The Sixth Symphony is actually a set of five variations on an original theme [listen -- track 1, 0:00-0:22], an idea of quite modest character, but there's an ambivalence about it that the symphony explores ruthlessly: the theme itself suggests Gregorian chant -- something modal, something confident in its measureless stride, something certain of its spiritual origins and, by implication, its heavenly destination -- but at the same time there's a wistful, and ultimately very powerful, sense of heaven having foreclosed. 'Too late for destinations not of the heart', the bells sound more like a knell for something lost than peals to greet the successful pilgrim [listen -- track 2, 0:00-1:00]. Something of the symphony's title Det Himmelrivende (The Heaven-Rending) goes deeper than the intended challenge to Nielsen's Fourth, The Inextinguishable.

Continue >>

Copyright © 9 December 2001 Peter Dale, Danbury, Essex, UK






 << Music & Vision home      Recent reviews       Garnet Ungar >>

Download a free realplayer 

For help listening to the sound extracts here,
please refer to our questions & answers page.