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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Even for those with a keen interest in Danish music, Peder Gram is just a name among the younger contemporaries of Carl Nielsen. He was an influential figure and administrator in his day and ended up as the wartime head of music at Danish Radio. His pre-war Second Symphony caused something of a stir, though after its completion he felt that his creative fires were beginning to cool. And so, as a retirement present and to encourage him to continue to compose, his colleagues and friends gave him a sumptuously bound volume of scoring pages with the words Symphony No. 3 handsomely engraved on the spine! Both symphonies are inventive and well worth recording and they encourage curiosity as to his other work. Eminently serviceable performances and recording.



David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2008

One of the shameful episodes in the history of music occurred in the earlier part of the 20th century, when the world chose to ignore the output of a host of gifted Danish composers. Their sin seems to have been an avoidance of atonality that had become fashionable among the influential music establishment high-jacked by the young avant garde. One who suffered this fate was Peder Gram a highly gifted composer, conductor and teacher, he had been musically educated in Germany and was so well received that his first symphony was premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic in 1914. His life was largely given to administration, including his role as Head of the Music Department of the Danish Broadcasting during which time he saw to the reshaping of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra to a full philharmonic size. He championed the output of those around him rather at the expense of his own, the Symphony Orchestra eventually presenting him with a bound copy of Peder Gram’s Third Symphony, a book full of empty pages that was a timely reminder that they awaited a major work from their well-loved colleague. He duly obliged in 1955 but was to die the following year when his listed works numbering just 35 scores. A gifted craftsman with a ready access to good melodic material, he was inexorably linked with Germanic music of the 19th century, and to give you some idea of the basic style of his two symphonies, I would place him in the modern lineage of Raff, but with a more dramatic flair. The disc opens with the gorgeous and creamy score for soprano and orchestra, Avalon, a piece that did enjoy success, and here ravishingly sung by Andrea Pellegrini. Twenty five years separated the Second and Third Symphonies during which time very little had changed, though the melodic content takes more time before entering ones memory. Both are unswervingly tonal, bright orchestral colours sparingly applied, Gram’s love of woodwind creating melody underlaid with strings. There is much in the Third that falls pleasantly on the ear in a rather pastoral setting, though the gossamer happiness of the finale does sound a little contrived. The playing of the Danish Philharmonic Orchestra - the booklet strangely gives the biography to the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra - is in fine form for Matthias Aeschbacher, son of the famous German pianist, Adrian Aeschbacher. Recording quality is to Decapo’s customary immaculate standard.






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8:17:04 PM, 21 October 2014
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