Gade: Erlkonigs Tochter (CD)

Current Stock:
Danish National Vocal Ensemble, Concerto Copenhagen, Lars Ulrik Mortensen

Elverskud (The Elf-King’s Daughter) is a dramatic cantata from 1854, based on Danish medieval ballads. It became one of Niels W. Gade’s greatest successes, not only in his native Denmark but throughout Europe, where Elverskud was performed several hundred times, often conducted by Gade himself. Gade was especially admired in Germany, and on this album, Elverskud is not only played on period instruments for the first time but is also sung for the first time with the German text that brought the work international fame. Here the cantata is put together with Gade’s breakthrough as an a capella composer, Fünf Gesänge from 1846, also in German. Perhaps this Danish national composer isn’t so Danish after all?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Gade, N: Erlkönigs Tochter, Op. 30
Ivonne Fuchs (alto), Johannes Weisser (baritone)
Danish National Vocal Ensemble, Concerto Copenhagen, Lars Ulrik Mortensen

Gade, N: 5 Gesänge, Op. 13
Danish National Vocal Ensemble, Lars Ulrik Mortensen

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Although the pre-eminent Danish composer of the 19th century, Niels Gade was particularly popular in Germany, which is why these two characteristic works of his have German texts. Erlkönigs Tochter (the Elf-King’s Daughter) from 1854 is a dramatic cantata in three parts, a substantial work cast in an early romantic musical language—and very lovely it is too. Performed here with period instruments, the cantata is revealed as a substantial and engaging work, clearly revealing why it was such a huge hit in its day. On this new da Capo CD, following on from an LP release last year celebrating Gade’s 201st birthday, the Danish National Vocal Ensemble also perform Gade’s a cappella Fünf Gesänge. The rediscovery of Gade’s delightful music makes the perhaps surprising point that while we think we have the measure of 19th century music there remains much yet to be discovered.

- Chris Dench, The Classical Music Collector