Bought in 2011.
First listen: 3-1-2011.
Second listen: 26-2-2011.
Third listen: 4-5-2017.
Recording dates: May/June 2007.
Recording venue: Danish Radio Concert Hall.
Recording engineer: Jan Oldrup.
Running time: 70:23.
Relevance to me: Essential.
State of the Art recording.
Benzin, opus 17, a Ballet in one act. (1928)
Til apollon lysets Gud. (1972)
Archæopterys, Opus 51. (1949)
Danish National SO, Owain Arwel Hughes.
It was some time ago that I bought this disc after hearing a few samples that so impressed me on first hearing that I bought it right away. I must admit that I am a sucker for ballet music, so it was kind of logical that I would go for it. Since then Riisager has a firm place in my collection, for not only did he write a masterwork in the ballet Benzin, but the other two works are of equally high quality. I did not expect that, but re-listening affirmed all I thought about it. Coming back to it after 6 years is again a revelation to me! All three works will not awaken hidden passion or a recognizable emotion, but the orchestration is utterly brilliant, and this is what impresses me deeply. I feel confronted with an irresistible force and power, sometimes brash and brilliantly evocative. It can be disturbing and unsettling, but ultimately you walk away with a feeling of awe. In one panoramic sweep of logically ordered notes you get an almost aerial view of the absurdity by the choreography made to match the music, and getting at the same time the impression that it would be impossible to stage anything remotely close to the music. Brilliant, utterly brilliant.
The other works affirm his expert handling of harmonies that cling to each other as twin individuals, that eat from the same hand. Was the ballet a picture of vivid contrasts, the other works are in the shimmering twilight of expressive transparency. I am duly impressed by this composer, no doubt about that. I am really happy with the height this music is reaching.
State of the Art recording, and a reference performance.