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Harry van der Wal
Harry’s classical music corner, January 2018

All the works on this CD are new to me. Starting with this incredible evocative Poème mécanique, dedicated to a new generation of aeroplanes. There is a subdued ferocity in tandem with taut rhythmic control and avoids even the slightest bit of frenzy throughout. The same intensity and firmness of grip you find in the second symphony and there is an equally riveting sense of spontaneity to this work. The Concerto for orchestra has an expressive agility with an intricate air of melancholy that is deeply affecting, and an ever shifting kaleidoscope of tone colour!

Primavera is a rapturous piece with an element of playfulness and propulsive excitement. You get unforced passagework and athletic leaps of imagination. The third symphony altogether puts me back to the second. Again a healthy rhythmic snap in even the most luxuriant passages. Music with backbone, as well as romantic sentiment. It has an earnest insistence over it that I find hugely appealing. There is agility, brilliance even, and a flexible approach, with a perfect balance between head and heart. But where would we be with the music if there was not the Aarhus SO, given a powerful rendition of Riisager works. © 2018 Harry’s classical music corner Read complete review

Roger Hecht
American Record Guide, March 2014

This is not easy music to play, and the Aarhaus orchestra and conductor Holton, not to mention the engineers, make an excellent case for it. © 2014 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Robert Benson, October 2013

Not a dull moment here! We have two brief “symphonies,” dating from 1927 and 1935 respectively, the first of which builds to a gargantuan climax. We also have a bright concerto for orchestra, a rather humorous concert overture, and T-Dox, an early work (1926) that gently suggests an aeroplane. The Aarhus orchestra…are fine players. Beautiful performances, and excellent sonics. A fine disk! © 2013 Read complete review

Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, August 2013

The Aarhus Symphony Orchestra…give us performances of these orchestral rarities which will undoubtedly be definitive for years to come.

Denmark is home to some of the world’s finest audio engineers and microphone manufacturers. Consequently Danish labels such as Dacapo usually deliver superlative recordings, and these are no exception!

…they project a wide, deep, clearly focused soundstage in a warm spacious acoustic. The instrumental timbre is natural with crystalline highs, and well-defined rock-bottom lows.

Riisager’s colorful scoring has different instrumental soloists and groups constantly popping up. Consequently the production staff had to perform a complex balancing act, which they’ve done most successfully through proper microphone placement and mixing. Those interested in 1920s and 30s symphonic rarities captured in demonstration quality sound will definitely want this CD. © 2013 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review

Lee Passarella
Audiophile Audition, August 2013

…Riisager’s vital, witty music is anything but. Even the lesser pieces on the current program are entertaining vehicles for orchestral display. This may not be great music, but it’s very, very good, with hardly a dull moment in the nearly seventy minutes that Dacapo generously provides. The playing by the Aarhus Symphony under Bo Holton is every bit as robust as the music, and the engineering offers up an array of bright colors, plus gutsy impact (oh, that bass drum!) I enjoyed Volume 1 in this series; I really dig Volume 2. What’s next, Dacapo? © Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, July 2013

…Knudage Riisager[’s]…second volume of The Symphonic Edition…[is] performed ably and convincingly by Bo Holten conducting the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra.

…this is music worth hearing, of especial interest to Scandanaviaphiles and those who like to become acquainted with less-known composers of the early modern period. I am glad to have it and will continue listening with absorption. Perhaps you will too. © 2013 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review, July 2013

The new Dacapo CD of works by Knudåge Riisager…labeled as Volume 2 of “The Symphonic Edition” of the composer’s works, contains no fewer than five world première recordings…His one-movement Symphony No 2…is quite compact and shows fine command of the orchestra. His Symphony No 3…which he called Sinfonia…is an exceptionally turbulent work…Concerto for Orchestra…is an effective suite with some good writing for individual sections. Primavera—Concert Overture…is a short and pleasant enough work…the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra under Bo Holten plays all the works idiomatically and with fine attention to detail. As a sampler of the composer’s early-but-mature style, this CD offers those interested in Riisager’s music a chance to hear just how varied his productions could be within a relatively short period of time. © 2013 Read complete review

Lisa Flynn
WFMT (Chicago), June 2013

This album presents a collection of highly original and imaginative orchestral works by Riisager from the 1920s and 30s, all in world premiere recordings by the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra and conductor Bo Holten. © 2013 WFMT (Chicago) Read complete article

David Hurwitz, June 2013

Through it all, Riisager’s personal style reveals itself in the music’s pellucidly clean and clear scoring, as well as its thematic distinctiveness. He also has the ability to write a sequence of consistently energetic movements that never become tiresome. These performances offer just what the music requires: they are snappy, spirited, and full of energy. The Aarhus Symphony and Bo Holten capture the rhythmic ebullience of Riisager’s inspiration effortlessly. Solo winds and brass relish their opportunities to shine, and they are very well recorded. If you have been collecting this series, don’t hesitate for a minute. © Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2013

Though Knudage Riisager spent much of his life as an important Danish civil servant, he had been a composition pupil of Albert Roussel in Paris in the 1920s. In his spare time he became a music journalist and a busy composer over a wide range of music. Maybe because his career was not solely in music, he remained a very enigmatic composer, and from my own limited experience, you certainly never know what to expect. Relying on the detailed notes with the disc, I learn that he wrote two symphonies, though, with the thought that the title ‘symphony’ was obsolete, he described the Third as a ‘Sinfonia’. The Second, dating from 1927, lasts around fifteen minutes, and is in one movement divided into several varying moods, its content tonal and with its feet in the symphonies of the late 19th century. If that work is readily accessible, the Third, from eight years later, is largely atonal, and though seemingly wanting to join mainstream 20th-century compositions, it never quite understands how to get there. The result is a patchwork score that eventually arrives at a happy finale. Four years earlier came the Concerto for Orchestra, not a score that exhibits the virtuosity of the orchestra in the way that Bartok achieved, but is still often an exciting four-movement piece. Just to show he could compose in a purely commercial environment, the concert overture, Primavera, is a thoroughly attractive score that makes an ideal entry point into his world, while the T-DOXC—taking its name from a Japanese aeroplane type—is full of unusual sounds. What does sell the disc is the totally committed playing of the Aarhus Symphony with Bo Holten conducting. I don’t know how well they knew the works before the recording sessions, but it sounds as if they are part of their standard repertoire. The recording is reliable…and as a disc of world premiere recordings, I much commend it. © David’s Review Corner

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