Rued Langgaard Music of the Spheres CD Completes DACAPO’s Pathbreaking Series
July 31, 2010
THOMAS DAUSGAARD & THE DANISH NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA GIVE UK PREMIÈRE AT THE PROMS AND RELEASE NEW CD ON DACAPO
On 11 August 2010 Thomas Dausgaard conducts the Danish National Symphony Orchestra at this year’s Proms giving the UK premiere of Rued Langgaard’s Music of the Spheres, nearly a century after the work was written. Danish National label Dacapo releases a new recording of Music of the Spheres, recorded by Thomas Dausgaard and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra on 26th July to coincide with this unique occasion.
Rediscovering Langgaard’s Music of the Spheres
Composer Per Nørgård tells the story of how he tricked Gyorgÿ Ligeti into discovering Rued Langgaard’s Music of the Spheres
‘The celestial and earthly chaotic music from red glowing chords with which life plays with claws of beast of prey—with an iris-crown round its marble-face with its stereotypic—yet living—demoniac and lily-like smile.’
This surreal description is Danish composer Rued Langgaard’s inscription in the score to his visionary 1919 work, Music of the Spheres—one of the few works published in his lifetime and written when the composer was just 26 years old. Premiered in Germany in 1921 and performed again in 1922, the work was then entirely forgotten, or possibly ignored, until after the composer’s death in 1952.
Rediscovery came only in 1968 when the composer György Ligeti, who was adjudicating new scores by Scandinavian composers, began reading Music of the Spheres, which had been secretly included by composer Per Nørgård in amongst scores of contemporary Danish works. Ligeti was astonished that many of the techniques he had been employing in his own music had in fact been foreshadowed by Langgaard a half century earlier. “So after all, I’m only a follower of Langgaard” commented Ligeti at the time.
Music of the Spheres is a symphonic work of great complexity, calling for a large orchestra, organ and choir, a supporting (distant) orchestra including a soprano voice, and a further piano on which the strings are played directly rather than via the keys. Langgaard described his intentions, saying ‘In Music of the Spheres, I have completely given up everything one understands by themes, consistency, form, and continuity. It is music veiled in black and impenetrable by mists of death.’
As Thomas Dausgaard commented ‘Motifs, musical styles, repetitions, instruments and registers are used symbolically, drawing us into a world of conflict between evil and good, between “anti-music” and heavenly music—truly music of the spheres!’
Thomas Dausgaard has long been a champion of Rued Langgaard’s works and has recorded all 16 symphonies with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra on Dacapo, a project which was completed in 2009 with the release of the full box set. For this new and important recording Dausgaard couples Music of the Spheres with two later works by Langgaard—The Time of the End and From the Deep—bringing an overview to the composer’s music over a period of 35 years.
The End of Time comprises the prelude and a linked series of scenes from Langgaard’s central work, the apocalyptic opera Antikrist. Antichrist is a character of marginal importance in the New Testament, but who fascinated Langgaard in the turbulent period following the First World War and inspired him to write stylistically contrasting, expressive works. He was, however, the only person to perceive Antichrist as a unifying symbol for the spirit of the times and the work was consistently rejected until it received its premiere in 1999.
From the Deep is the last large-scale work Langgaard completed shortly before his death in 1952. Opening with a nightmarish, grotesque “war music” which unfolds into choral settings of Requiem aternam and Dies Irae, it is a very personal work, possibly representing Langgaard’s own Requiem. The work was not performed publicly until 1994.
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