Irgens-Jensen: Glorious Orchestral Works from CPO

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

Had he written more music, Norwegian Ludvig Irgens-Jensen would be considered a great composer today. I have no doubt about it. This two-disc set contains most of his orchestral music without voices, and it’s glorious. Start with Disc 2, containing his single symphony, plus the Passacaglia. Self-critical to a genuinely unproductive degree, Irgens-Jensen separated the finale from the symphony’s first two movements and gave it a separate title: Rondo marziale. That is how it is presented here, although with the original ending of the second movement. Bjarte Engeset’s Bournemouth performance, recently issued on Naxos, employs the revised ending of the second movement and identifies the finale as such. The differences aren’t important, but I marginally prefer Engeset’s recording both for the marginally more powerful Bournemouth Symphony, and the more vivid engineering (although this one really is very good).

That said, I recommend this set enthusiastically for the first disc alone, containing the Theme and Variations, the Suite from King Baldwin’s Armlet, the tiny Air (an arrangement from the song cycle Japanese Spring), and the Partita Sinfonica, one of the most beautiful pieces of music by anyone. Have a listen to a few seconds of the slow finale (sound sample). It’s really special, and we have badly needed a new recording of a work that ought to be as popular as just about anything. It may be that Naxos will issue more Irgens-Jensen with Engeset, but there’s no reason to wait. He’s a composer whose music is rich enough to stand duplication—a bit like Manuel de Falla in that respect—exhibiting such a high level of craftsmanship and ravishing beauty that you can accumulate the same stuff virtually forever without guilt. Eivind Aadland and the Trondheim Symphony do him proud. You’ll love this.

Irgens-Jensen: Partita Sinfonica (IV) Aadland

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Symphony & Passacaglia: Engeset (Naxos)

    Tema con Variazioni; Partita Sinfonica; Air; Suite Kong Baldvines Armring; Sinfonia d; Rondo marziale; Passacaglia

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