After Buxtehude in the 17th century and prior to Nielsen in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Niels Gade (1817-1890) was the most famous Danish composer. His extraordinary 1st Symphony of 1843 was premiered in Leipzig at the Gewandhaus conducted by Mendelssohn, who promptly offered Gade a post at his new conservatory. Gade later conducted the premiers of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Schumann’s Piano Concerto. His music (he composed 8 symphonies, the 5th having an important piano part, a violin concerto and a Spring Fantasy for piano, orchestra and voices and a quantity of chamber and orchestra works) is superbly crafted, romantic but with a classical poise and form. The influence of his friends Mendelssohn and Schumann can be detetected, but there is a very definate Scandinavian feel to his music. Schumann wrote that he could detect ‘the lovely beechwoods of Denmark’ in Gade’s music.
The 2 Novelletten are among his most successful works. Beautifully crafted, elegant and warm they are rewarding discoveries, and a good introduction to this neglected but important figure in 19th century Scandinavian music.
• Recording made by Paula Records in 1981
• Booklet notes