ASGER HAMERIK: Choral-Symphony No. 7; Requiem – Randi Stene, mezzo-soprano/Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Choir/ Thomas Dausgaard – DaCapo

by | Jul 4, 2006 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

ASGER HAMERIK: Choral-Symphony No. 7; Requiem – Randi Stene, mezzo-soprano/Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Choir/ Thomas Dausgaard – DaCapo 8.226033, 78:51 ****:

Danish composer Hamerik lived until l923, spending the latter part of his life in the U.S. as director of the conservatory of the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. He studied with none other than Hector Berlioz and Hans von Bülow, and his music is felt to be a link in Danish music between that of Niels Gade and Carl Nielsen.

In his first six symphonies Hamerik had made a definite key the basis of each four-movement work.  In No. 7 he departed from that model with a three-movement work beginning in D minor but ending in a joyous C Major.  A hymn-like main theme plays an important part throughout the symphony. The work features a mezzo soloist in addition to the chorus.

The 44-minute Requiem is the work to notice here. It clearly belies the influence of Berlioz, to the point of the Judgment Day brass fanfares in the Dies irae section reminding one strongly of the four spaced brass choirs which startlingly blare forth in that section of the Berlioz Requiem. It quotes the Gregorian theme which Berlioz also used. The fanfares return again, as with Berlioz, but during the penultimate Sanctus movement. Hamerik also combined the first two parts of the Latin Requiem Mass into a single movement, as Berlioz had done. The closing Agnus Dei movement has lovely themes and the work ends in a blaze of glory.  This is a most exciting Requiem that should be in the collection of anyone partial to this musical form.  The recording quality is excellent; in fact I’ll admit I thought it was an SACD until halfway thru I noticed there was no signal coming out of the surround speakers.

– John Sunier

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