KNUDÅGE RIISAGER (1897-1974): Symphonic Edition, Vol. 2 - Symphony No. 2, Op. 14, Sinfonia (Symphony No. 3), Op. 30, Concerto for Orchestra, Op. 24, Primavera, Op. 31, T-DOXC (poème mécanique), Op. 13.
Catalogue Number: 07P007
Description: The Poème mécanique is a particularly satisfying example of the trend for celebrating the advances of the burgeoning machine age that occupied Futurist thinking in the early decades of the 20th Century. Riisager restricts himself to purely orchestral means of depicting a new type of airplane; the motoric drive of the piece, its ostinati, exuberant orchestration and buoyant harmonies make the piece more an expression of optimum about the progress of technology than a strictly utilitarian description of a machine. The musical language is more reminiscent of early, progressive pre-censure Shostakovich, or Prokofiev, than the wilder excesses of the Futurists. The exhilarating second symphony juxtaposes a variety of influences, and wears them well; the overall idiom is very idiosyncratic, even if the work's antecedents are quite apparent. Beginning in a very Sibelian manner, the symphony soon moves into a more bitonal harmonic idiom, before introducing the first occurrence of a frequently recurring fanfare motif that seems to have wandered in out of a Bruckner scherzo. This is passed around the orchestra and becomes the subject of much of the development in the work. The Concerto is structured on neo-baroque principles, with something of a Concerto grosso use of orchestral groupings, but the feel of the work as a whole is richly romantic, especially the superb slow movement, based on the Dies irae. The "Spring" overture is lively and appealing, with unexpected spicy dissonances, and some picturesque birdsong imitations. The Sinfonia departs from established symphonic form as it consists of three moderate to fast movements, short, teeming with ideas and energy, and frequently propelled by side drum and percussion. The music's tumultuous nature, abrupt changes of mood, absence of traditional symphonic tonal conflict (albeit within a resolutely tonal vocabulary), fanfares and driving percussion tattoos are oddly reminiscent of later Havergal Brian. Aarhus Symphony Orchestra; Bo Holten.