PER NØRGÅRD (b.1932): Spell for Clarinet, Violin and Piano, Suite from the Film Babette’s Feast for Piano Quartet, Trio breve for Piano Trio, Whirl’s World for Wind Quintet.

Catalogue Number: 08V048

Label: Dacapo

Reference: 8.226136

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: Another stimulating selection from the many whirling worlds of Per Nørgård. 1973's Spell is probably the closest Nørgård ever got to minimalism. The piece builds up in patterns, from single notes to little repeating or almost-repeating cells. Of course, being Nørgård, the music departs from the comfortable tonal harmony of much traditional minimalism in unpredictable ways. Nørgård might seem a less than obvious choice to write the score for a quietly contained local drama and paean to the delights of gourmet food like the acclaimed Babette's Feast (1987), and this may have belatedly occurred to the film-makers, as only a couple of minutes of the 20-odd that he wrote ended up in the film. Here’s the whole thing; undeniably atmospheric, there is a certain austerity and astringency to the music that is appropriate to the bleakness of the landscape and the Puritanism of the community in which the story takes place which may have alarmed the film-makers. Presented as a suite in the order of events in the narrative, the gradual 'thawing' of the music, and resolution into more consonant tonality, beginning with scene of the sumptuous feast and its effect on the villagers makes perfect sense, and the arc of the music, like that of the film, is very moving. Whirl's World of 1970 is a big wind quintet in sections, unpredictable and energising. It begins with jaunty, upbeat fanfares, but quickly transitions into an extraordinary static passage of sonoristic tones and multiphonics, eerie and oppressive. When forms eventually coalesce out the impenetrable, threatening fogs, they turn out to be little gestures, insistently repeating like a parody of  one of Pettersson's nightmare ostinati. After a while the music makes an effort to be more agreeable, with snatches of melody with a hymn-like nature. These vie for attention with a return of the sonorous material for a while, finally seeming on the verge of turning the music in their direction - whereupon a raucous mirror image of the opening minimalistic fanfares abruptly ends the work. Ensemble MidtVest.


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