Paul A. Snook
, September 2012
Among the many post-Nielsen Danish composers whose names would probably be unfamiliar to most music lovers worldwide is that of Finn Høffding (1899–1997). Yet Høffding was one of the crucial figures in his country’s rich unfolding of 20th-century modernist music.
And here at last Dacapo has acknowledged his importance with this premiere recording of one of his strongest works, the Third Symphony of 1928. This 35-minute masterwork exemplifies the many virtues of this not-too-prolific composer’s solidly founded neoclassicism: an instinctive grasp of symphonic narrative and architectonics, based on clearly outlined contrapuntal textures and ostinato patterns whose relentless forward motion is highlighted by an intermittently prominent piano line. Underlying this technical expertise is a flawless sense of dramatic contrast. For example, the first movement’s dark and forbidding aura is dispersed by a slow movement that achieves tragic grandeur after absorbing two sudden outbreaks of violent agitation. The scherzo emphasizes Høffding’s quirkily grotesque sense of humor, with all of these varied elements comprehensively assimilated in a finale of enormous energetic summation. Without a doubt this is one of the most powerfully realized Danish symphonies…
Two…fantasies open this program—the aptly named Evolution (1939)—about as implosively compact a quarter-hour of music ever written—and the lighter, shorter It Is Quite True (1943), inspired by the Andersen tale about a prickily determined hen, which sounds like a kind of Scandinavian Sorcerer’s Apprentice and is Høffding’s most-recorded work.
…this release is essential to anyone interested in 20th-century Scandinavian repertoire. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review