WORKS: Statements; The Creation – the Sixth Day; Examples; Je ne me tairai jamais, jamais; Trois Poèmes de Samuel Beckett
PERFORMER: Bodil Rørbech (violin); Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen/Flemming Windekilde, Vocal Group Ars Nova/Ivan Hansen
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224056
The earliest work on this CD of music by the Danish composer Pelle Gudmunsen-Holmgreen (b1932) is the most forbidding: Je ne me tairai jamais. Jamais is a setting of part of Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable, with the chorus repeating the words of the title in various ways – shouting, spoken, sung – while a narrator speaks the rest of the text in French or Danish (there are two versions on this CD). Against this there is an instrumental background which comments irreverently on the proceedings, almost as if trying to silence everyone else.
There is a similar dichotomy in The Creation – the Sixth Day. A solo violin, brilliantly played by Bodil Rørbech, is at odds with the double chorus until the very end, where human beings are created, and the two musics suddenly come together in almost hymn-like simplicity. Simplicity underlines the writing in both Statements and Examples. There’s a limited range of pitch, rhythm and tonality, but the composer always manages to hold the attention with small inflections and changes. By contrast, Trois poèmes de Samuel Beckett are complex and dissonant. Throughout, the singing of the 12-strong choir is focused, accurate and committed. If you enjoy the fruits of an unfettered musical imagination, somewhat akin to Ligeti’s, this CD is for you. Martin Cotton