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26 Danish Violin Concertos - Volume 4

Kai Laursen with various orchestras 1966-78

Danacord DACOCD 467-468

Previously welcomed in a 10-CD boxed set (not available separately) this project deserves a big success upon re-issue in convenient twofers.

They all carry the same lovely painting by the master-mind Kai Laursen, who plays all the concertos and twisted arms to bring it to completion, which was well in sight when he dies.

Kai Laursen put his energy and know-how to get the Danish Radio to "play ball" and let "this beaver-like idealistic musician" perform 28 concertos by Danish composers, sometimes in radio productions weged in against time pressure and with "audible traces".

The only known concerto is Nielsen's, here from "a private amateur tape recording", but no matter - on its original release in that 10 CD box, Music Web rated it high in a comparative review "fully committed and involved, typically warm-hearted, vesting the score with his characteristic intelligence and tonal resources".

The others are virtually unknown, certainly so in UK. Many are well wrought if not staggeringly original; all worth hearing at least once. Having enjoyed all these as novelties if not masterpieces, I would welcome the opportunity to listen to the others, and suspect that in concert they would make welcome alternatives to the "standards", especially if broadcast on Radio 3 (were they all broadcast upon the first release?) and as show pieces for student violinists in the Colleges and Academies, rather than setting themselves against the stars and their numerous recordings. One I'd choose for them to look at seriously is the last of these five, the two-movement concerto of Riisager.

How to evaluate a life? This project may not bring many of these composers into "the repertoire", but they make a marvellous living memorial to Kai Laurens himself - a fine violinist who played all the famous concertos in his time and often with famous conductors; those participating here include Ole Schmidt and Mariss Jansons. Laurens died just before the discs were at last released, and they declare that his was a life to celebrate.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Danish Violin Concertos Volume 5

Cd1: Eyvin Anderson: Concerto For Violin And Orchestra, Niels Viggo Bentzon: Concerto No.2 For Violin And Orchestra
Cd2 : Jens Laursen Emborg*: Concerto For Violin And Orchestra, Leif Thybo**: Concerto For Violin And Orchestra, Vagn Holmboe*: Concerto 9 Per Violin, Viola Et Orchestra

Equally rewarding and confirming the importance of Kai Laursen's project, the complete series is now available in five 2-CD sets each priced as a single CD; no doubt similar rediscoveries could be made by dedicated musicians from many other lands?

The very obscure J L Emborg's concerto sampled is a delight; "remote from what Danish colleagues were interested in - a happy synthesis of neo-baroque, Hindemith & Reger, without Reger's heaviness" etc. An aspiring concerto violinist in one of our Colleges or Conservatoires should pick this one up for a UK premiére.

I look forward to making time to hear the others.