Nørgård: Seadrift; Suite, Op. 5; Mating Dance; Tjampuan; Spell

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Koch Schwann
WORKS: Seadrift; Suite, Op. 5; Mating Dance; Tjampuan; Spell
PERFORMER: Norma Enns (soprano), Hans-Udo Heinzmann (flute), Rupert Wachter (clarinet), Heinrich Hörlein (violin), Friedemann Pardall (cello), Jürgen Lamke (piano), Ulf Mummert (guitar), Frank Polter (percussion)
CATALOGUE NO: 3-6765-2
Listen to this disc ‘blind’ and you might think you’re hearing the work of five different composers. Per Nørgård is one of those fascinating artistic figures who delights in breaking his own moulds: just when it seems he has found a productive new musical vein, suddenly he’s off in some strange new direction. It’s hard to imagine a career less like that of his teacher and mentor, the great Danish symphonist Vagn Holmboe. But probe a little deeper and you can see that the different stylistic masks are hiding more or less the same face. This is a composer who can be sombre, abrasive, lyrical and playful by turns – sometimes startlingly quick turns. The opening of Seadrift might lead you to expect 20 minutes of barbed modernism – anti-Delius with a vengeance; in fact the music slips just as easily into soulful late Romanticism, or into a kind of highly charged, quasi-Baroque theatricality. The gently lapping textures which open Spell could have yielded some pleasantly pointless New-Agey minimalism; instead, the changes Nørgård rings on his simple repetitive patterns are wild, witty, teasing and always brilliantly inventive. It’s all convincingly played, and soprano Norma Enns copes impressively with the technical and expressive demands of Nørgård’s vocal writing. Recorded sound is a little clinical, but very well balanced and focused. Stephen Johnson