The Lapland Chamber Orchestra performs works by Sørensen

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COMPOSERS: Sørensen
LABELS: Dacapo
ALBUM TITLE: Sørensen
WORKS: Mignon; Serenissima; Sinful Songs; The Lady of Shalott; Ständchen; The Weeping White Room
PERFORMER: Katrine Gislinge (pno); Lapland Chamber Orchestra/John Storgårds (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.226134

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‘White’ appears often in Danish composer Bent Sørensen’s titles. There is the accordion concerto It is pain flowing down slowly on a white wall, the site-specific vocal work The White Forest and, on this disc, The Weeping White Room, a mesmeric piece for wind, strings and solo piano. The idea of white – its restraint, its mystery, its hint of the unhinged – is central to Sørensen’s music and duly pervades this exquisite collection of works for piano, violin and chamber orchestra.

At the heart of the disc is Mignon (2013-14), a captivating concerto for piano and strings. The score is at once dreamy yet precise, neo-Romantic yet crisply modern, complex yet rich in space and silence. There is an almost unbearable, icy tenderness to the music (the excellent sleeve notes aptly describe Sørensen’s harmonies as ‘like smoke: forming suddenly only to disintegrate’) and the intricate score is performed with great clarity and beauty by pianist Katrine Gislinge and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra.

Where Mignon carries echoes of Romanticism, Ständchen (2006) is underpinned by a certain wild, fragmented classicism. Scored for the same forces as Schubert’s Octet but with the idiosyncratic addition of claves (a pair of sticks) for each performer, the work is matched in its winning strangeness by Sinful Songs (1997-98) where, as with many of Sørensen’s works, the ensemble is spread across the performance area to create intriguing acoustic ‘space’ for the listener. Two spellbinding works for solo violin The Lady of Shalott (1987; 1992) and Serenissima (2014) complete this beautifully-produced disc.

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Kate Wakeling