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Steven Ritter
Audiophile Audition, November 2009

His choral work is melodic and gorgeously conceived, always keeping the words in focus and not cluttering up the melody with harmonies that are too obtrusive, though his harmonies can indeed be complex, some of them even reminding me of English composer Herbert Howells. The first works on this disc are my favorite here, the lovely “Alluring Sounds”, “The Milkmaid”, and “The Harvest Bird”, followed by the namesake of the album, Rose Garden Songs, perhaps distinguished by its use of timbre and harmony as opposed to melody. Langgaard refuses to be pigeonholed, and offers us fresh takes in each work according to the muse he felt based on his texts.

Even the large number of motets and hymn melodies given here express a symbolism and romantic ethos that inspired a reactionary element in Danish music, our composer not being associated with this in any way. He steadfastly rejected the notion of enhanced use of Reformation melodies and a jettisoning of the romantic spirit. As a result, these wonderful pieces are heard through the spirit of the 19th century, unapologetically manipulated for maximum emotion effect.

This is an SACD version of a 1997 release, and welcome it is, the enhanced surround in no way sounding like a beefed-up artificial manipulation. The Ars nova Copenhagen performs this music with evident affection, and if your choral collection needs some refreshing, you’ve found a perfect starting place.

Robert Benson, September 2009

Many of Da Capo’s superb recordings of music of Rued Langgaard have been mentioned on this site [See Rued Langgaard’s Biography & Discography Page]. This new disk offers almost all of his a cappella choral music, mostly written early in his career. These choral songs, motets and hymns are beautiful and simple, far removed from the composer’s dramatic later use of the chorus in some of his symphonies. Performances by the superb Ars Nova Copenhagen directed by Tamás Vetö are perfection. This recording was previously issued; now collectors can enjoy it in SACD which captures the gentle sound of the chorus most realistically.

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