Christian Westergaard

Jacob Gade: Waltzes, Tangos and Cinema Music

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The most famous tango of all did not come from Argentina, or Uruguay, or indeed from any Latin country, but from Denmark; Jalousie, originally the Tango Tzigane or Tango Jalousie, was a piece of film music by Jacob Gade, composed in 1925 for a live theater orchestra of which he was the head, and soon became an international hit. That piece isn't included on this collection of piano music by Gade, although it certainly could have been; many of his short pieces appeared in both keyboard and orchestral versions. Instead, the listener gets to know the genres of light music from which that piece emerged. There are tangos, including the most intriguing Monna Vanna: Tango Blues, other works from Gade's several collections of silent film music, as well as waltzes and salon pieces. Even more than other collections of semi-popular music from this era, this one has the feel of a vanished world. Gade, about 50 years too late, decided he wanted to be a Danish waltz king, and his association with the world of the silent film, which would disappear within a few years, intensifies the mood. Even the tango was a bit past its prime in the major capitals, although perhaps not in Copenhagen. Gade, who wrote reams of music, was a gifted melodist, and these pieces are never less than attractively melancholy. Pianist Christian Westergaard keeps to the low-key essence of the music and is beautifully recorded by the generally high-quality Dacapo label from Denmark, and the graphic design, evocative of silent-film dialogue cards, is a pleasure in itself. Notes are in English, Danish, and German.

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