Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Mirror Pieces; Passacaglia; Double; Territorial Song; In terra pax

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COMPOSERS: Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: Mirror Pieces; Passacaglia; Double; Territorial Song; In terra pax
PERFORMER: LINensemble, etc
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224225
Maverick, eclectic: the 70-year-old Dane Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen is a disconcerting composer. It’s not just the grotesque humour that he injects into his music – the way that the serene, Morton Feldman-like progress of the second Mirror Piece is interrupted by a short burst of scraping glissandi which never recurs – there’s also his ability to switch rapidly between intensely tonal music and good old-fashioned squeaky-gate without leaving the musical structure in tatters. Sometimes there’s a flavour of jazz: the Passacaglia ends with a boogie-woogie riff, propelled by the rhythm of the tabla, and Double begins like an attenuated blues, then moves towards what the composer describes as a feel of break-dance, before collapsing into unpitched sound.

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Territorial Song and In terra pax (the latest and earliest works on this disc) are both tougher in their more conventional modernity, though the unpitched percussion in Territorial Song adds an unruly element. Unruly also are the flatulent motor horns which accompany the solo cello in Plateaux pour deux – an uneasy co-habitation of beauty and the belly-laugh. The three players of LINensemble (plus their guest musicians) encompass all these kaleidoscopic moods and techniques, with reactions quick enough to turn on a dime. A shame about the odd bumpy recording edit. Martin Cotton