GADE:  Symphony No. 2, Op. 10.  Symphony No. 8, Op. 47.  Allegretto, un poco lento.  In the Highlands, Op. 7
Danish National Radio Symphony Orch/Christopher Hogwood, cond.

CHANDOS 9862 (F) (DDD) TT:  69:46

Music of Danish composer Niels Wilhelm Gade (1817-1890) impressed  both Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn. Iin 1843 Mendelssohn conducted the Symphony No. 1, which was dedicated to him, with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Gade went on to compose seven more symphonies all of which are available on CD.  Neemi J”rvi recorded a set with the Stockholm Sinfonietta for BIS, Michael Schønwandt did them for DaCapo with the Copenhagan Collegium Musicum, and Chandos recorded Symphony No. 1,  Echoes of Ossian and the Hamlet Overture with Dimitri Kitaenko and the Danish National Radio Orchestra.  Christopher Hogwood already has recorded the Symphony No. 4 for Chandos.  Now we have this new release on the same label called Volume One of the symphonies in The Niels W. Gade Edition.

It seems odd that Hogwood, whose attention in the past has been focused on  early music played on "original instruments" would now devote his attention to music of Gade.   In spite of the program notes mention of Romantic horn calls, "Nordic atmosphere," a "Beethovenian call to attention," Mendelssohian lightness in the scherzi" and other positive factors, little of this comes over in these prosaic works.  I've listened to each several times and don't care to hear them again, agreeing with critics who found the second symphony's music at its 1844 premiere lacking ("we might wish, for the benefit of Gade's Second Symphony, that we had not heard his first one").  Of more interest than the two symphonies on this CD is the Scottish overture In the Highlands composed immediately after Symphony 2. However, it also suffers by comparison with the 1840 Echoes of Ossian Overture Op. 1, which first brought fame to the young composer.  The CD also contains an Allegretto, un poco lento, a discarded slow movement from Symphony 8.  Both it and In the Highlands here receive their premiere recordings.

The enthusiastic performances and fine sound leave nothing to be desired.  Should you have an interest in Danish orchestral music of the 19th Century you might wish to investigate this CD that represents two relatively major works by one of their best-known composers.

R.E.B. (Jan. 2001)