Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ludolf Nielsen - Lackschmi (Complete Ballet) - "Isabella" Overture - Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Werner Andreas Albert - CPO Records 2006

Hello everyone. I know it's been quiet around here, been busy but I am (mostly) back to share the wealth :) Here is one highly interesting offering before I get to work.

Ludolf Nielsen (absolutely no relation to the great Carl Nielsen - although they were close contemporaries - Carl Nielsen was the elder by 11 years) was an extremely gifted composer and lately I have been exploring his music again. This highly enjoyable disc is full of some of Nielsen's most colorful and exciting music. 

Ludolf Nielsen (January 29th, 1876 to October 16th, 1939) was a Danish composer, violinist, conductor, and a pianist. Today he is considered as one of the most important Danish composers of the early 1900s. He belongs among the last Danish Romantics and in his own refined way he continued the National Romantic tradition, but also incorporated many new features from Late Romantic music abroad (such as the exoticism we hear in the exciting Lackschmi Ballet). Nielsen was born in Nørre Tvede, Denmark, and although his family lacked any musicians Ludolf took to music at a very young age. Like his namesake Carl Nielsen, Ludolf Nielsen was from a peasant family, and as a young boy he took violin lessons from local fiddlers (when he was eight he played at local festivals and other country occasions). 

In his mid-teens, he moved to Copenhagen, which exposed to a much more musical society. When he was 19, Ludolf won a scholarship to the Danish Royal Academy of Music from a contest. There, he studied violin, piano, and music theory. Supposedly, his composing talents were self-taught, and Ludolf mastered the art of composition quickly. His considerable skill in orchestration towered above the Danish standard of the day, with the exception of course of Carl Nielsen, the greatest Danish composer of all time. It was when he was about 20 that Ludolf Nielsen started composing music seriously, and soon thereafter he also sent his time as a violinist with the Tivoli Orchestra. Some of his works were performed in 1899, but his first major success was with the symphonic poem "Regnar Lodbrog" (about a legendary Norse ruler) which gained him an additional scholarship that let him spend time in the musically rich city of Leipzig, there he composed a few string quartets and had them published. He returned to Copenhagen and was conductor of the Tivoli Orchestra. In 1902, he composed his First Symphony, and between 1903-1905 a tone poem "From the Mountains". Just after his marriage in 1907, Nielsen composed a Romance for Violin (1908) and his Second Symphony (1907-1909). Like many other artists of the time, World War I had a profound affect on Nielsen, and he didn't compose anything else until 1914, which brought his Symphony No. 3. After the War, he became a private music teacher for a period of time, then returned to composing. The two most important works from this period are his ballet "Lackschmi" (Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth beauty, luck, light, wisdom) of 1922 which was a great success for the Royal Ballet, and the orchestral suite "Skovvandring" (Forest Journey). Later works, for example the choral work "Babelstårnet" (The Tower of Babel) and the last of his three symphonies, have a Symbolistic, philosophical content, while his last compositions are leaner and marked by nature lyricism. After these major works Nielsen wrote almost 100 Lieder. Between 1926 and 1939, Ludolf worked as a programmer for the Danish National Radio Corporation, and with the exception of a few radio plays, he ceased composing. Nielsen died in Copenhagen on October 16th, 1939 at the age of 63.

I will likely share all of the Dacapo discs and a few more on CPO soonish.

1) Overture "Isabella" Op.10


2) Prelude/Indian March
3) Lackschmi's Dance
4) Padmavati's Dance
5) Lento Appassionato
6) Interlude
7) Scene Music
8) Scene Music/Entry March
9) Bayadere Dance
10) Ino's Dance
11) The Tournament
12) The Contest Between The Prince And Veramadeva
13) Lento
14) Allegro Ma Non Troppo
15)The Dance Of Death/The Flames  





Scraps said...

I love CPO's cover design.

Tzadik said...

Hi Scraps, I have to agree! Then again I love Asian art in general, and ancient Indian paintings, scrolls and tapestries are just divine.