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Jens F. Laurson, September 2018

The world-premiere recording of the two finished movements of an early, otherwise incomplete sonata for piano and violin is a terrific bonus: late Robert Schumann meets Carl Nielsen. This is Surprised-by-Beauty music of the first order, magnificently performed and recorded and very much recommended to any explorer of the hidden charming sides of 20th-century music. © 2018 Read complete review

Jim Svejda
Fanfare, July 2018

The performances by Gunvor Sihm (first violin of the Nightingale String Quartet) and pianist Berit Johansen Tange—whose three-volume Dacapo survey of Langgaard’s piano music (8226025, 6220631, 6220565) sounds as definitive as the Nightingale’s traversal of the string quartets—could hardly be bettered, nor could the up-close but realistic recorded sound. This latest triumphant vindication of one of music’s great oddballs makes you very eager to hear what comes next in Volume 2. © 2018 Fanfare Read complete review

John Dutterer
American Record Guide, March 2018

Count Langgaard is lucky to have such devoted adherents as these two ladies. Pianist Berit Johansen Tange is already on her third volume of his works for solo piano, and violinist Gunvor Sihm is a member of the Nightingale Quartet, whose entire output consists of three volumes of Langgaard’s quartets. Such insistence on the importance of a particular composer can have far-reaching results on how posterity assesses them; think of Glenn Gould championing Schoenberg or Charles Mackerras’s devotion to Janáček. © 2018 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Andrew Mellor
The Strad, December 2017

Three of the four pieces here come from 1949, the final year of the composer’s ‘musical frenzy’ that delivered reams of heartfelt experimental works. More disciplined composers don’t rant, but when Langgaard does, his music is as compelling and fascinating as anyone’s.

In the unfinished sonata of 1909–11 we hear that these musicians can do Romantic rhetoric as well as human impulse. Langgaard weights the piece towards the piano but Sihm holds her own on her 1725 Guarneri while enjoying the fight. She finds a way to bend wild phrases into submission and is thrillingly aware of where one might tip from joyous rhapsody into railing anger. In the central section of the second movement, Johansen Tange’s chords move from the thunderous to the consoling, while Sihm’s poise and control in the final bars is wondrous. Recorded sound is good and this is essential listening. © 2017 The Strad Read complete review

Records International, November 2017

The first of three volumes in this new series brings one early work from 1909–11 which is in the tradition of Schumann and Gade (as many of Langgaard’s youthful compositions are) and three from 1949 where there is often a sardonic quality to the still-Romantic language but where there are also wild, almost schizophrenic “what the heck was that?” moments that keep the listener on his toes. In other words, exactly what you expect from Langgaard… © 2017 Records International

David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2017

This is the first release in a new series from Dacapo that will contain the complete violin and piano works by the Twentieth century Danish composer, Rued Langgaard. He was intermittently interested in the genre, but towards the end of his short life he wrote several violin sonatas, his earliest attempt here represented by an unfinished sonata from around 1911. In mood he had returned to the late nineteenth century, the disc’s opening tracks containing the five brief movements of Ecrasez l’infame (Crush the abomination) four of them carrying the instruction ‘Precisely and emphatically’, two characteristics certainly found in these performances from the young duo, Gunvor Sihm and Berit Johansen Tange. In his later life, he espoused ‘extremification’ of the Short Violin Sonata containing all four of the conventional movements into just fifty-seven bars, and lasting around three and a half minutes. It was originally called Four Violin Psalms, each psalm carrying a biblical quotation. Langgaard later withdrew that name, though the disc’s booklet gives details of that original version. Completed in 1949, its parentage comes from the early twentieth century, and is very different from the Fourth Sonata written at much the same time. It is difficult to know what to make of it, but if you think of a group of people, both young and old having a discussion on the merits of the Second Viennese School as compared with the traditions dating back to Bach, you will have some idea as to its content. It is in five movements compressed into a score of less than twenty minutes, the modernists almost winning before a triumphal and conventional conclusion. The most extended score on the disc is the unfinished Sonata from his eighteenth year, when just two movements were completed. Even at that juncture he had reached almost twenty-five minutes, and later in his life he called it his ‘Unfinished’ Sonata. It has many influences, but its seeds would have been sown in the days of Brahms. Throughout the disc, the piano tends to be the motivating voice, but these two young performers do try to balance things out, Sihm’s intonation being impeccable and her Guarnerius violin of gorgeous quality. Dacapo’s recording is in the premiere league, and I will look forward to a continuing series. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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