Nørgård: Songs

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LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: Songs
PERFORMER: Lars Thodberg Bertelsen (baritone); Per Nørgård (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224170
Per Nørgård is generously represented on disc: all the symphonies and quartets, as well as three operas. The 27 songs recorded here span a period of some 40 years, the three comprising Det åbne (The Open) date from the early Fifties and the most recent, the Three Magdalene Songs, from 1991. The latter and six of the nine Op. 14 Danish Songs (1955-8) have been recorded before – albeit indifferently, and certainly without the expressive advocacy that Lars Thodberg Bertelsen brings to them. Generally speaking, the level of inspiration is high and the music springs from a keen lyrical impulse and strong feeling for the letter and the spirit of the poem. Bertelsen’s fine intelligence and musicianship are not in doubt, but as recorded here his voice is wanting in bloom and richness of timbre. And he is not helped by the balance, which favours the piano, or the claustrophobic and unpleasing studio acoustic. Nevertheless there are many songs here to which I shall return: ‘Året’ (The Year) from 1976, poignant and dignified, ‘Golgatha’ (1962), a haunting song from the oratorio The Judgement, to name only two. Nørgård naturally brings authority to the proceedings, but it must be admitted that he does not always conjure the most beautiful sonority from the piano. Robert Layton