Tuesday, December 07, 2004
The thread continued through a visit to Denmark last week. We flew Ryanair to the university city of Arhus. After getting off the airport bus in the city centre we set off on foot to the SAS Radisson Hotel, (which was very comfortable but is a typical convention hotel, although we weren't there for a convention, just got a great deal from Expedia - this post is starting to sound like all those other geeklogs about open source conferences in San Francisco isn't it?).
Our route took us straight past an excellent bookshop, Hinges Antikvariat in Banegardsgade, which had displayed in the window Monasteries of the world: the rise and development of the monastic tradition by Christopher Brooke (photographs by Wim SwaanPublisher: Ware, Hertfordshire : Omega Books, 1982, c1974.ISBN: 0-90785-330-7 DDC: 271.0094) which I swiftly vacuumed up for 200 Danish Kroner. A wonderful book, with a very good text supported by excellent photographs and really good plans.
The main reason for visiting Arhus was to take in the new Aros Gallery which opened earlier this year, and as a building manages to deliver that unique Scandinavian combination of style and function, see photo below.
It is a must visit for its collection of twentieth-century Danish art, but the unexpected show stopper was Ron Mueck's five metre high sculpture 'Boy'. Modern works of art that stop you dead in your tracks are rare; this one was surrounded by gawping visitors of all ages. The header photo shows 'Boy' on display at the gallery.
Musically it was also an interesting visit. I picked up Danish composer's Johann Ernst Hartmann's complete symphonies on the German label CPO, an 18th century Danish composer that is well worth exploring.
I also picked up Spanish composer's Fredirico Mompou's complete piano works in a 4 CD set - nothing at all to do with Denmark other than that it was on the shelf in a music store. This recording comes from the Dutch label Brilliant Classics which is well worth exploring, they are a budget label but seem to be very smart at licensing (or recording) artistically worthwhile recordings. I have got a lot out their release of the Rubio Quartet recordings of the complete Shostakovich String Quartets , an excellent 5 CD set at a ridiculously low price.
We even managed to fit in alive performance of an excellent string quartet comprising Principals from the Arhus Symphony Orchestra. We didn't know until we arrived that the concert was in the 200 year old reconsructed Elsinore Theatre in the 'Old Town' (Den Gamle By) which is a wonderful open air museum a short walk from Arhus City Centre. The acoustics of the old wooden theatre, but the programme (apart from an excellent Haydn early quartet) of Verdi and Kreisler quartets fell into the category of justly neglected masterpieces!
Also visited Arhus Cathedral (Arhus Domkirke) which dates from the 13th Century. Its' many fine wall paintings were white washed over in the Reformation giving a striking stark simplicity to the interior (although thankfully some of the paintings have been incovered and restored). A noteable feature of the Domkirke is the Frobenius Organ which has been used for many famous recordings, including Dame Gillian Weir's Messiaen Cycle
A memorable visit, and the power of Ron Mueck's work will stay with us for some time.
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