PROMS / Notices : Danish National Radio SO / Kitaenko - Royal Albert Hall / Radio 3

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The Independent Culture
Day or night, sun or moon, a fair, faithful bride or the dark, enticing Elf-King's daughter? What a choice for poor Lord Oluf. How could any warm-blooded 19th-century composer fail to sympathise? For their Friday Prom, Dmitri Kitaenko and the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra brought a setting of the story by Niels Gade, widely labelled as the father of Danish classical music, but rarely heard outside his own land. The Elf-King's Daughter has its sweet, gently colourful moments (and soprano Inge Nielsen certainly helped warm them to life) but the lack of pace becomes increasingly problematic as the grisly denouement approaches. One can't help wishing that the Mendelssohn of Die erste Walpurgisnacht had been around to offer a little advice.

However much the Danish musicians may have enjoyed putting the case for Gade, there was much more for them to chew on in Edison Denisov's adaptation of Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death - a spicy, atmospheric realisation, which showed each of the orchestral sections to advantage without drawing too much attention from the main business, the vocal line. And how could it, with such a presence as the great Danish bass Aage Haugland in command? The blend of seductiveness, chilling power and black humour was near-ideal.