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Launy Grøndahl
Trombone Concerto (1924)
1. I. Moderato assai ma molto maestoso
2. II. Quasi una Legenda: Andante grave
3. III. Finale. Maestoso (Rondo)

Violin Concerto, Op 6
4. I. Allegro non troppo
5. II. Nocturne. Andante, molto cantabile
6. III. Finale. Allegretto, vivace

Bassoon Concerto (1942)
7. I. Allegro moderato
8. II. Adagio quasi una fantasia
9. III. Rondo giocoso

CD 2

1. Pan and Syrinx, Symphonic Poem, Op 5

Horn Concerto (1954)
2. I. Allegro, molto moderato, maestoso
3. II. Tranquillo e semplice
4. III. Tempo di Marcia, moderato

Symphony, Op 9 (1919)
5. I. Andantino con molto moto allegro con molto passione
6. Intermezzo. Allegretto con moto
7. II. Allegro non troppo maestoso e brillante – Andantino com molto passione

The Launy Grøndahl’s Legacy, Vol. 2 ©
By Martin Granau

Grøndahl’s compositions
Besides the violin, Grøndahl studied composition with Ludolf Nielsen, and his first extant work dates from 1908. All his early music is scored for strings except his incidental music Op. 7 to the Norse legend Tyrfing, for wind band. Further notable early pieces include a String Quartet Op. 3 (1914), the symphonic poem Pan and Syrinx Op. 5 (1915), a Violin Concerto Op. 6 (1916) and a Symphony Op. 9 (1919). He won belated recognition as a composer in 1924, receiving a grant from the Copenhagen Orchestral Association with the blessing of both Carl Nielsen and the conductor of the Royal Danish Orchestra, Georg Høeberg. The grant enabled Grøndahl to undertake a tour of Europe in the first months of 1925. Accompanied by his wife he visited Paris, Vienna and Milan among other cities.

Grøndahl’s musical language belongs to its time and place, influenced by his contemporary Nielsen and an older tradition that can be traced from Gade’s music back to Mendelssohn, while later works have a French accent. He wrote idiomatically for each instrument of the orchestra, as the concertos on this album attest, and in some ways his orchestration has a sophistication lacking in the rougher-hewn textures of Nielsen. He favoured rhapsodic forms which present themes in a sequence of contrasts, without developing them in orthodox fashion; a more germane comparison to Classical forms would be with the Rondo (in fact Grøndahl later added the term to the head of the Trombone Concerto’s finale). Early reviews of the Symphony criticised its lack of development while praising the orchestration; the concertos are more balanced in this regard.

Trombone Concerto
The grant of 1924 also gave new impetus to Grøndahl’s composition. ‘My joy is unconfined,’ he told the Danish Musician’s Journal. ‘The very same morning I received the pleasant news, I was so happy that I composed the entire first movement of my Trombone Concerto. I hope to complete it in time for a performance with Olfert at the Zoo, and I hope it will astonish both the audience and the zoo’s other wild inhabitants!’

He dedicated the Trombone Concerto to Wilhelm Aarkrogh, solo trombonist at the Royal Chapel for many years and regular member of the Zoo orchestra. Programmes at the Zoo often included virtuoso transcriptions, and Aarkrogh would take the limelight at the end of a concert with a romance from Verdi’s La Traviata, a song from Kienzl’s opera Der Evangelimann or Rousseau’s Pièce Concertante. Aarkrogh’s playing, which Grøndahl heard night after night, surely also stimulated the composer’s inspiration. However, Grøndahl did not complete the concerto in time for the orchestra’s summer season, and the first performance took place on his 39th birthday, 30 June 1925, with Aarkrogh and the Tivoli Harmoniorkester (a wind ensemble) conducted by Ferdinand Hemme.

Grøndahl’s sketches for the concerto have not survived, but his practice with concertos was to write in a short score for solo instrument and piano. That the work was originally written for trombone and piano is further suggested by two visits to the composer by Aarkrogh and the pianist Walter Schrøder (a friend and colleague from both the Casino and the Zoo) on 6 August and 23 September 1924. If one surmises that they visited Grøndahl in order to play through the concerto and/or make suggestions and criticism – then this not only points to trombone and piano as the original instrumentation but also fixes the time of the work’s completion.

At the time of the premiere, Grøndahl was Chairman of the Danish Society of Young Composers. Members of the society organised portrait concerts of their own music, and Grøndahl seized opportunity to have his new concerto performed; he also had the first movement of his Violin Concerto played by violinist Mogens Hansen.

The full orchestration of the Trombone Concerto came 18 months after the wind-band version and replaced it as the composer’s final, authoritative score. On this recording he conducts the Danish Radio Orchestra and its principal trombone at the time, Thorkild Graae Jørgensen. The concerto has often been subject to unauthentic octave transpositions and radically faster tempi than envisaged by Grøndahl; the present version has the stamp of authenticity.

Violin Concerto, Op. 6
Grøndahl composed his Violin Concerto, his second most widely played piece, while a member of the Casino Orchestra. His work on the piece was interrupted by being called up for military service between June and November 1916. Thus the first two movements were written between May and July, while the finale was completed on 6 January 1917. The concert is dedicated to violinist Mogens Hansen, but Peder Møller was the soloist at the concerto’s first performance in 1919 in the Tivoli Concert Hall conducted by Grøndahl. Hansen later played the solo part at a Tivoli concert in 1925 and for several subsequent Danish Radio concerts. On this recording the soloist is Milton Seibæk, a member of the Royal Danish Orchestra.

Concertos for horn and bassoon
Once he became Conductor of the Danish Radio Orchestra in 1925, Grøndahl found little time for composition. His two major compositions of that period are the Bassoon Concerto (1942) – his first work since the Trombone Concerto of 1924 and the Horn Concerto (1954-55, his last work).
Notwithstanding Grøndahl’s reputation and the fact that both concertos were written for members of the Radio orchestra, they had to be approved for performance by the Statsradiofoniens bedømmelsesudvalg, an official board for judging new broadcast works. The dedicatee of the Bassoon Concerto was Carl Bloch, who gave the premiere on a radio broadcast of 3 May 1943 conducted by Grøndahl. The present performance was recorded shortly before the conductor’s retirement in 1956. He dedicated the Horn Concerto to Ingbert Michelsen, a member of the Danish Radio Orchestra since 1942 and a professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Music from 1957 onwards. The present recording documents the concerto’s premiere on 1 June 1957.

Pan and Syrinx, Op. 5; Symphony, Op. 9
Inspired by the myth of the Greek god Pan and his frustrated pursuit of the nymph Syrinx, Grøndahl’s tone poem was completed two years before Nielsen’s piece of the same title. The premiere was led by the Danish composer and conductor Louis Glass in November 1916 as part of the Dansk Koncertforening series. Dating from spring 1919, the Symphony Op.9 is written in a three-part, single-movement structure with a central intermezzo; the premiere took place on 23 October 1923, also within the Dansk Koncertforening series, conducted by Peder Gram.

RELEASE DATE: August 2020


EAN: 5709499882009