Louis Glass (1864-1936): Complete Symphonies, Vol. 1 / Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie; Daniel Raiskin


In these two works by Danish composer Louis Glass, musical reflections of our natural world are unmistakable; the idyllic air of a bucolic life surfaces time and again. Glass provides both works with descriptive titles - the third symphony is subtitled "Forest Symphony" and the title of the orchestral suite is "Summer Life". Glass's pastoral evocations are masterful. These, and the disciplined structural design of his music, and an ability to write passages of extraordinary beauty combine to produce exceptionally satisfying music. Conductor Daniel Raiskin and the Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie provide first class performances and cpo supplies remarkably vivid sound with just the right bloom.

Louis Glass (1864-1936) was born in Copenhagen. During the early part of his career, he was considered one of Denmark's preeminent pianists, until a paralysis in one arm sidelined that course. Glass was an exact contemporary of Carl Nielsen and, like Nielsen, studied with Niels Gade. Early influences included Anton Bruckner and César Franck, and his music reflects the formal rigor of these composers; the opening movement of the Third Symphony is a textbook example of sonata form. His musical language is pleasingly tonal and rich with attractive melodies and satisfying harmonies and progressions, with characteristics of Richard Wagner and Edvard Grieg never distant.

The generous sample provided, with the kind permission of cpo, is the opening movement of Symphony No. 3, Op. 30 in D major "Forest Symphony", a work dedicated to the memory of Edvard Grieg. As mentioned, the movement is in strict sonata form, the first motif being stated in the opening horn call and the second following immediately in the first entrance of the violins. These themes are present in all four movements of the symphony, providing ballast and cohesion to what I found to be a thoroughly rewarding experience, each of the many times I listened to the symphony. This is highly recommended to any listener interested in discovering unknown gems of the late Romantic orchestral repertoire - listeners who most likely will need no further persuasion to obtain this recording than to hear the sound sample provided.