REGISTER NOW AND GET
• 5 FREE tracks! • 101 tracks for $9.99
ClassicsOnline Home » BORRESEN / HEISE / GLASS / NIELSEN: Cello Miniatures
for Cello and Piano
so many short pieces for cello and piano from the Danish Romantic period that
the dacapo CD with the title cello and Piano (8.224052) was not enough
to cover all the ground. The six composers here were, with a single exception,
among the best known of the age in Denmark, but almost none of the pieces on
the CD has been recorded before, and today they arc unknown music even to
The oldest of the composers on this CD is Peter Heise (1830-1879), and he is
also the one out of the six who wrote most music for echo - three sonatas as
well as eight shorter pieces with piano accompaniment. One of the sonatas can
he dated to 1867, since it was written for two Italian musicians, Ferdinando Furino
and Giovanni Sgambati, whom Heise met during a stay in Rome that year. Two of
Heise’s miniatures on this CD, Agitato and Con fuoco, can on the
other hand be dated back to 1851, and the others may well be contemporary with
them. The two pieces are in a manuscript book from his youth with the disarming
heading Gruelige Viser (Terrible Songs). They are dedicated to the
cellist Julius Holm, and were moss likely written for private musical
get-together. Among the other pieces not recorded here there is even one with
the title Tooteloot for Violoncello and Fortepiano!
is one of the most important Danish composers from the latter half of the
nineteenth century. His many songs, have been printed in large editions over
the years, and although in this field he is the equal of the best foreign
composers of his day, his romances and his national-romantic opera Drot og Marsk
(King and Marshal) have overshadowed his other works.
Heise was an excellent pianist, but also had a great feeling for cello writing.
These small pieces benefit greatly from his melodic talent, and the melody
bears the whole structure in them. In the style of Mendclssolm’s Lieder ohne
Worte, it seems that Heise simply wanted to find a use for tunes
that he just happened to have up his sleeve.
At Heise’s summer residence in 1871 a group of composers formed the publishing
concern Samfundet til Udgivelse af Dansk Musik, the Society for
the Publication of Danish Music. The aim was to issue unpublished major works
from both older and more recent Danish music. On the evening of the foundation
the actual “ideas man” was of course also present - his name was Jacob Fabricius
(1840-1919). Fabricius was involved in many important events in the Danish musical
life of the age. He was the prime mover when he and his contemporary colleagues
C.F.E. Horneman (1840-1906) and Otto Mailing (1848- 1915) founded the society Koncertforeningen
in 1874 to deal with the progressive music of the day. Jacoh Fahricius was also
behind the negotiations that led to the great ball of the present Odd Fellow Palæ
in Copenhagen becoming the country’s leading concert hall, Koncertpalæet.
And then Fabricius was Peter Heise’s only composition pupil. However, his own
compositions did not reach many ears at the time, and today he is a completely unknown
Jacob Fabricius wrote among other things a lot of vocal music, a National-Romantic
opera (Skøn Karen) and orchestral works, including a symphony
entitled Tivoli. He had his works performed more often abroad than in Denmark, where he made his living throughout his life as a banker. After beginning as a
bookkeeper lie ended his career in the National Bank, highly placed in society
with the rank of etatsråd or titular Councillor of State. As a composer,
however, he remained a withdrawn figure in Denmark.
Fabricius wrote a number of pieces for cello at the urging of a French cellist
who had participated in a performance of his music. In particular, songs with
an obbligato cello part became a specialty for Fabricius; but he also wrote pure
instrumental pieces for the instrument. His Ballade and Dormeuse
were both dedicated to his son Otto. The music scems French-influenced, melodious
and sensitive, and shows he had a fine ear for harmony. With the unusual title Dormeuse
Fabricius was probably referring to the situation where the child had already
heard a berceuse, and had thus fallen asleep! At all events the piece is
touching with its gentle fatherly love, and sure in its sensitive melodic and
harmonic turns of phrase, which handle the situation with taste.
Louis Glass (1864-1936), with his background as both cellist anti pianist, had
a fine basis for writing works in this genre.
As a child he was taught music by his father, who was a pianist, and Louise
Glass had his official debut in 1882 on both instruments.
Glass was a Copenhagener from a fine old family. He was a highly esteemed
teacher, and he conducted, debated and performed as a piano soloist and with
chamber works. As a composer he kept his roots in use Romantic musical culture
throughout his life, but it was a culture in whose development he
himself was a leading light in this country, in keeping with his times. Abroad,
he made the acquaintance of César Franck’s music, and he was the first to play
Franck’s chamber works in Denmark. Bruckner’s symphonies also left their mark
on him, and Glass’s later works were also greatly influenced by his immersion
in Theosophy, the religious philosophy that fascinated Scriabin too.
Louis Glass wrote many works, especially orchestral works and chamber music. Three
of the chamber works are for cello and piano (his Sonate and Romance are
recorded on Cello and Piano, dacapo 8.224052). Foraarssang (Spring
Song) op. 31 was probably written in 1902, and was published in versions with both
piano and orchestral accompaniment. The piano writing seems “orchestrated” in
the motion of its parts, so the orchestral version may well have come first. It
is a very well-turned, sweeping piece with effective harmony - and actually a
rather dark piece of spring music from a composer who was often criticized for
Three Danish composers were born in 1876, and together they paint a fine
picture of the schools of together they paint a fine picture of the schools of
thought in the Danish music of the age.
Hakon Børresen (1876-1954) was responsible for a brilliant, masculine stately
kind of music, trained as he had been by the Norwegian orchestra leader and conductor
Johan Svendsen. Børresen made an impact around the turn of the century, and was
prosperous enough to he able to compose as he wanted. He excelled particularly in
orchestral music. Three large symphonies and a violin concerto are among his best
know orchestral works, and he also bad some success with opera and ballet. However,
with the years much of his time was spent as an administrator and ambassador
for Danish music, and he was a very strong chairman of the Danish Composers’
Association. Artistically, he stuck to the foundation he had laid at the beginning
of the century, and in the last decades of his life, when he had survived almost
all his like-minded colleagues, he did not write much music.
Børresen’s Romance and the two character pieces Deux Pièces are
relatively early works. The Romance, with its highly effective melodiousness
and outgoing mood (the cello part often soars up to a high pitch) is quite
typical of Børresen. The piece also exists in a version with orchestral accompaniment.
The Deux Pièces were written with the same feeling for effect, and the slightly
square-cut character of the Serenade reveals some Børresen’s dry humour.
Less known today is Jens Laursøn Emborg (1876- 1957). Emborg earned his living teaching
at a teachers’ training college and as an organist in Vordingborg in southern Zealand. He had trained as a teacher before he began studying the organ, violin and composition
in Copenhagen with, among others, the composer Otto Malling, the Principal of
the Royal Danish Academy of Music.
J.L. Emborg was a very productive composer, and wrote music in all genres -
opera, instrumental concertos, five symphonies, chamber works, songs and choral
works. In his own time the works were performed often - abroad too - but hardly
any of them are known today. The one that is mentioned must often is the
acclaimed orchestral work The Twelve Masks, based on a decoration
in his own Vordingborg Church.
Emborg is an interesting figure in Danish music history, because he was so
independent. Undaunted by his location in the provinces, he developed a style
that was both sure-handed and unusual in the Danish music of his day. His works
were increasingly influenced by Baroque music and its principles - something
that was a widespread tendency at the time in Germany, but was taken up by few
Danish composers. As a contrast, in his style we often find elements of a
different musical interest, Danish folk fiddling.
Emborg’s Nocturne from about 1904 bears the opus number 1, and still
belongs in the Nordic National-Romantic tradition. The piece has a touch of
folk music about it, with its melodiousness and static melancholy, accompanied
by rather original piano writing.
Ludolf Nielsen (1876-1939) was from southern Zealand too. He was born in the village of Nørre Tvede near Næstved, but in his teens moved to Copenhagen to seek his fortune. In
the capital he developed amazingly quickly, and for some decades engaged in
successful, very busy composing activities. He bad artistic success and was paid
great attention, but after World War I he retired to some extent. The Romantic
world in which he had his roots had suffered a defeat in the War, and this
weighed heavily on him. Ludolf Nielsen was at bottom a nature lyricist and
Romantic, and wrote refined, questing music. In the face of the explosive
events of the War he bad to give up.
Ludolf Nielsen originally wrote Romance op. 11 for cello and orchestra,
but he also wrote a version with piano accompaniment. In the orchestral version
it was played twice at the Tivoli Concert Hall in the summer of 1906, with the
Royal Orchestra musician Siegfried Salomon as soloist. A few years later Ludolf
Nielsen was asked by a well known Belgian cellist, Charles van Isterdaël, to
write a piece, preferably a sonata (van Isterdaël sent the same request to,
among others, Arnold Schoenberg!). Ludolf Nielsen gave Isterdaël the Romance,
which the latter then played at his concerts around Europe. But the Romance
was never printed, and during World War I the orchestral score disappeared. Ludolf
Nielsen had to reconstruct it from his piano manuscript, but neither the
orchestra version nor the piano version has been played for generations
before the recording of this CD.
At an early stage be called the Romance Legende, a title he also attached
to other pieces from this period. It refers to the archaic, mythical element
in the music. Ludolf Nielsen deliberately worked to expand the idiom of National
Romanticism, and in the Romance he does so with a strong Wagnerian influence.
His Romance is time must expansive, and perhaps also the most distinctive
piece on this CD.
Jens Cornelius, 1998
Last Albums Viewed
BORRESEN / HEISE / GLASS / NIELSEN: Cello Miniatur...