Rasmussen, S¿rensen, Abrahamsen, Ruders

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COMPOSERS: Abrahamsen,Rasmussen,Ruders,Sørensen
LABELS: Bridge
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The New Danes
WORKS: Movements on a Moving Line; The Deserted Churchyards; Winternacht; The Bells
PERFORMER: Lucy Shelton (soprano)Speculum Musicae
CATALOGUE NO: BCD 9054 DDD
The success rate here is remarkably high. In this modest survey of contemporary Danish music there is not a single dud: on the contrary, one work seems a near masterpiece, another is very good indeed and the remaining two are beautifully imagined and crafted. Eleven years separate the eldest composer, Karl Aage Rasmussen (born 1947), from the youngest, Bent Sørensen. Rasmussen’s Movements on a Moving Line, composed in 1988 and scaled down last year for the eight instruments of Speculum Musicae, is a skilfully sustained single span that beautifully interweaves four types of music, the most telling being a lame, regretful waltz; Sørensen’s The Deserted Churchyards (1990) is a brooding and elliptical piece of scene- painting, economical and effective.

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To British audiences at least Hans Abrahamsen and Poul Ruders are more familiar names. Abrahamsen’s Winternacht (1978) has been performed in London, though not, I think, in this scaled-down version; the precision and poetic intensity of these miniatures, inspired by the poetry of Trakl, are as extraordinary as ever. And while Ruders’s 1993 setting of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Bells doesn’t seem the most powerful of his recent works, it still conjures up dark and baleful images with a sure dramatic touch. Andrew Clements