Riisager Volume 2: Neoclassical Energy and Tart Lyricism

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

The five works presented in this second volume of the Riisager “Symphonic Edition” reflect the composer’s neoclassical leanings: specifically, you can readily detect the motoric rhythmic style of Roussel. French also is the composer’s preference for clarity and brevity. The 1927 Second Symphony, in one movement, lasts slightly less than 15 minutes, the 1935 Sinfonia (Symphony No. 3) only a bit more than 20. The Concerto for Orchestra, a brief quarter-hour of sparkling orchestral activity in four parts composed in 1931, joins similarly titled pieces by composers such as Hindemith and Casella, while the poème mécanique T-DOXC recalls Martinu’s Thunderbolt P-47 in its early representation of an airplane.

Through it all, Riisager’s personal style reveals itself in the music’s pellucidly clean and clear scoring, as well as its thematic distinctiveness. He also has the ability to write a sequence of consistently energetic movements that never become tiresome. The Sinfonia, for example, has three movements marked Feroce, Violento e fantastico, and Tumultuoso, but they remain distinctive and well-contrasted. These performances offer just what the music requires: they are snappy, spirited, and full of energy. The Aarhus Symphony and Bo Holten capture the rhythmic ebullience of Riisager’s inspiration effortlessly. Solo winds and brass relish their opportunities to shine,  and they are very well recorded. If you have been collecting this series, don’t hesitate for a minute.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: No reference recording

    T-DOXC; Symphony Nos. 2 & 3; Concerto for Orchestra; Primavera: Concert Overture

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