International Record Review: Outstanding March 2012.
Celebrating his 80th birthday in 2012, Per Nørgård is undoubtedly one of the most important Danish composers since Nielsen. A prolific composer in many genres, he has also been influential in his rôle as a teacher of composition, and through his extensive writings on music from both technical and philosophical viewpoints.
This disc, recorded in 2010 in the presence of the composer, brings together his two violin concertos as well as the orchestral work Spaces of Time. While wholly characteristic of Nørgård’s personal musical language, each work exemplifies particular aspects that have preoccupied the composer during the past 25 years.
In Spaces of Time one aim was to create a continuous development from the musical material, in spite of it being organized in separate and contrasting temporal spaces.
Helle Nacht (‘bright night’) is, among other things, an experiment in focal depth – the music has several transparent layers, and at each hearing the listener will be able to experience the work differently, depending on which layer is perceived as foreground or background. The aimed-for transparency of the music is even more pronounced in the version for chamber orchestra, created especially for the soloist on the present recording. Borderlines, the title of the closing work, alludes to the position of the soloist, who must take into account two different tonalities in the orchestral accompaniment. One is represented by the Western ‘well-tempered’ scale, while the other features micro-tones generated as harmonics on the lower string instruments, and is, in Nørgård’s own words, ‘as foreign to the ear as is the dark side of the moon to the eye’.
Supported here by the fine Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and conductor Rolf Gupta, the Norwegian violinist Peter Herresthal has previously appeared on two BIS releases, each documenting his close collaboration with a living composer: Olav Anton Thommessen and Arne Nordheim, respectively. Both discs were acclaimed by the reviewers, with the critic in the French magazine Répertoire extolling ‘the astounding achievement of Peter Herresthal: precise, virtuosic, sensitive and completely committed on the emotional level.’
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