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Harry van der Wal
Harry’s classical music corner, May 2017

All three works will not awaken hidden passion or a recognizable emotion, but the orchestration is utterly brilliant, and this is what impresses me deeply. I feel confronted with an irresistible force and power, sometimes brash and brilliantly evocative. It can be disturbing and unsettling, but ultimately you walk away with a feeling of awe. In one panoramic sweep of logically ordered notes you get an almost aerial view of the absurdity by the choreography made to match the music, and getting at the same time the impression that it would be impossible to stage anything remotely close to the music. Brilliant, utterly brilliant. © 2017 Harry’s classical music corner Read complete review

John Sunier
Audiophile Audition, December 2008

The producers of this disc were certainly straightforward about the terrible reviews this unusual ballet received at its premiere (and only two other performances) in 1930. Excerpts: “Much of it consisted of imitations of animal and machine sounds, but really with very little originality...banal, stumpy, breathless scraps of music without head nor tail, and not in the least funny, just some orchestrated grimaces...pure honk-honk...”  The Danish Royal Theater, which had premiered it, had nothing to do with Riisager’s ballet after that, but it was telecast there in a shortened version in 1963.

Actually, the music is a kick—tonal and witty in the style of Satie’s Parade. It resulted from a collaboration between the composer and cartoonist Storm Petersen.  Some samples of his drawings are on the cover and in the booklet. The simple scenario concerns a young farmer in love with the innkeeper’s daughter. A motorcyclist runs out of gas (‘benzin’ in Danish) in the village and the farmer offers to ride his bike to the gas station to fetch a can. During his absence the motorcyclist comes onto the girl, making the farmer furious when he returns. But after a scene, all is settled peacefully with the girl exchanged for the petrol can.  The score is full of clever sound-painting instrumental ideas. For example, many different playing approaches are employed on the cymbals—which the higher-res surround aids in identifying. At one point they evoke the cycle’s noise, a tuba represents a cow lowing, and a glissando in the celli becomes the snoring gas station attendant.

Archeopteryx is the missing link prehistoric bird-reptile; the music is strange and rather static - this bird seems to be fossilized. The closing work is translated To Apollo, God of Light, and is a powerful ten-minute piece combining tonal and dissonant sounds for a strong impression. It was written in l972, a year before the composer died.

Paul A. Snook
Fanfare, November 2008

…this release, with its definitive performances brilliantly realized by the Scottish conductor Owain Arwel Hughes, is indispensable. © 2008 Fanfare Read complete review

American Record Guide, September 2008

Knudage Riisager (1897-1974) studied with Roussel and spent time in Paris mingling with Les Six and Stravinsky. There is even a little Shostakovich sprinkled in sometimes in this music. He split his time between being a bureaucrat and writing music-and he wrote quite a lot. This program samples his work from the interwar years, the late 40s, and his final work, written in 1972. …This rather esoteric release will be of interest to collectors of 20th Century Scandinavian music, but mostly Riisager fans.

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