POUL RUDERS (b.1949): Symphony No. 5.

Catalogue Number: 01S009

Label: Bridge

Reference: 9475

Format: CD

Price: $17.98

Description: This symphony, Ruders' most recent, from 2013, was originally to have borne a subtitle 'Ring of Fire', suggesting the volcanic region surrounding the Pacific Ocean. Or so the composer claims, in a delightfully cranky program note appended to the score which constitutes an extended protest at the idea that a composer is nowadays expected to 'explain' his music in such a program note. The imagery fits - sort of; the outer movements have a sense of vigorous, uncontrollable energy, while the central slow movement could be the eruption-free dark centre of the firestorm. But this does nothing to explain the unruly chorus of police whistles that startlingly intrudes at several climactic points in the first movement, or why the energy of the finale seems channeled into a rhythmic dance. So perhaps it's better to approach the piece as the purely musical statement that the composer would clearly have preferred it to be. In which case it is a grand, 25-minute neo-romantic symphony, with a powerfully dramatic and, yes, volcanic in some sense or other, first movement in approximate rondo form with a great sense of momentum; a brooding, static slow movement with a feeling of gathering storm clouds, and a propulsive, mechanistic finale full of pounding rhythms. The language is very tonal though with a kind of devil-may-care approach to dissonance (not to mention dynamic and rhythmic aggression), alternating explosive extroversion with tense introspection. Danish National Symphony Orchestra; Olari Elts.

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