Symphonic music took an international step forward in Scandinavia when Thomas Dausgaard began to direct the Danish Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. With the latter, he undertook a major project of recording, dedicated to recording the complete orchestral works of Beethoven for the SIMAX label. The symphonies of course: but also the concertos, along with the sadly-overlooked overtures, and rare works like the young Beethoven's works for ballet: Musik zu einem Ritterballet and Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus. This project was hailed by critics for its coherence and the excellence of its execution. But their work goes much further than the romantic repertoire, with Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Dvorak and even Bruckner.
Known for his particularly innovative programming choices, for his creative curiosity, and for his impassioned performances, he successfully made the most of the works of the Nordic composers. The discovery of these artists is particularly interesting. Franz Berwald and Carl Nielsen take pride of place of course - they are, after all, far from obscure to the rest of the world, but the resurrection of scores by the Dane Rud Langgaard (1893-1952) is especially thrilling. Not fitting into any given school, this completely anachronistic music has always been completely out of step with its own time. An avant-gardist in his youth, Langgaard was accused in later life of being a reactionary, apparently turning his back on modernity. Symbolic music (Harmony of the spheres), romantic pastiches or collages presaging the 1970s, Thomas Dausgaard has produced a profoundly original, startling work which can now, thanks to this record, be accorded its deserved place in the history of music. Another major discovery here is that of Asger Hamerik, a Danish composer who came to France to work with Berlioz, and who left us 7 symphonies, all recorded by Dausgaard with excellent Scandinavian orchestras. But his curiosity doesn't stop there: the Danish conductor conducts and records lots of music by Scandinavian composerslike Per Nørgård, Svendsen, Hartmann or Sinding. The musical life of the countries of Northern Europe, with its often neglected richness, has found in Thomas Dausgaard an ambassador to bring it to light. He is also the head of the BBC Scotland Orchestra and, from 2019, will be the musical director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, where is very personal approach to programming will enjoy a lively reception.
Always with one eye on educating tomorrow's audiences, Thomas Dausgaard accords great importance to the role that music can play in the lives of children and young people. That is why he has collaborated with young people's orchestras like the Baccarelli Institute in Brazil, the Toronto Youth Symphony and the Australian Youth Orchestra. This unique conductor is a real free radical in the often-hidebound world of classical music. His curiosity goes far beyond the borders of music, and he is fascinated in particular by the ways of life of faraway peoples: he has visited head-hunting tribes in Borneo, worked on a Chinese farm, and lived with villagers on a remote South Pacific island. He currently lives in Denmark with his family.
The variety of his vast discography sheds a light on the adventurous spirit with which he approaches music. He ceaselessly exploits new musical worlds, an enemy of the routine which can so often prevail in concert halls. His store of knowledge can only be a help to him in directing canonical works, which he can enrich with his experiences. © FH – November 2017 /Qobuz
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