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David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2007

Emil Reesen was born near Copenhagen in 1887 and was already playing the piano professionally at the age of 14, but failed the entry exam to Denmark's Royal Academy of Music, and had to study privately. Early success as a concert pianist gave way to conducting and eventually to composing. From there he has been described as a 'jack-of-all-trades' working in a diverse media world composing everything from film background music to operetta and ballet. The present disc would show a composer never short of a good tune, but one who seemed happy to work in pastiche of composers that had gone before. That is particularly evident in Trianon - A Suite in Old Style - where we could well imagine we were in England of yesteryear though Reesen thought he was in France. The most extensive work, and the one worth preserving, is the Variations on a theme of Schubert, the theme coming from a little known work for four-handed piano. Completed in 1928 to mark the centenary of Schubert's death, it was dedicated to the Danish Radio Orchestra which he had become conductor of the previous year. I was very much taken by Himmerland, a Rhapsody on folk tunes from North Jutland, the simple tunes skilfully bonded together, then dressed in elaborate and colourful orchestration. The remaining tracks are short and are a series of cameo pieces, including the brief cowboy ballet, Gaucho.

Maybe a little tidying up of passing moments of quirky intonation could have been made, but the playing of the Aalborg orchestra is assured and responsive to the music. First rate sound.

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