SØREN NILS EICHBERG (b.1973): Symphony No. 1 "Stürzten wir uns ins Feuer", Symphony No. 2 "Before Heaven, Before Earth".
Catalogue Number: 06O010
Description: The turbulent First Symphony displays considerable indebtedness to Shostakovich, with easily discernible traces of Prokofiev and Panufnik. The work portays a doomsday vision of mankind's apparently irresistible urge to self-destruction. The symphony plays continuously, and although subdivided into movements, such is the degree of thematic cross-reference throughout the piece that it feels like a single, sustained argument. The unrelenting violence of the first movement suggests the horrors of mechanized warfare and the brutality of corrupt regimes, in music of constant, rudely virile energy. The second movement continues the argument, traversing a bleak, shadowy landscape illuminated by the fitful lightning of stabbing fanfares. The third picks up the pounding, mechanistic march from the second and superimposes it on a desolate background, before a brief, tumultuous recapitulation brings the work to a close. The title of the Second Symphony is derived from a verse of the Tao Te Ching pertaining to the pre-creation void. In the light of this, the convulsive eruption of the substantial first movement might be viewed as the violent flinging of matter into being, with the shorter following movements - conforming approximately to symphonic conventions within a single span - as the reverberations of this cosmic upheaval and a glimpse backward to the colossal calm that preceded it. The music has a certain obsessive, declamatory quality that recalls Pettersson; Eichberg's harmonic language is not that dissimilar either. In the later movements we often encounter driving ostinati underpinning static, sumptuously harmonized chorales suspended in time, a very Panufnik-like device, especially the culminating blaze of triumph, crowned by fanfares. Danish National Symphony Orchestra; Christoph Poppen.