Nørgård: Metamorfosi; Tributes; Fugitive Summer; Pastoral; Adagio

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COMPOSERS: Nørgård
LABELS: Finlandia
WORKS: Metamorfosi; Tributes; Fugitive Summer; Pastoral; Adagio
PERFORMER: Ostrobothnian CO/Juha Kangas
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-25986-2
In his thoughtful liner notes, Per Nørgard writes about his drive towards ambiguity, and his aim for his music to speak with many voices, and these are the threads running through these works, written for string orchestra over a span of 45 years. Even the Adagio from 1950/1 ends with a question mark, and Metamorfosi (1954), though beginning confidently, in a lyrical, tonal vein reminiscent of Britten’s Frank Bridge Variations, gradually winds down to an inconclusive end.

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The opposite is more likely to happen in the later works, where an initial idea may be taken off in several directions simultaneously, so that there are many resolutions, rather than a single one. In the first movement of Fugitive Summer (1992), simple melodic lines interweave to create a rhythmically indeterminate fabric, while the second movement exists in suspended animation, almost as if it is listening to itself, and the final fast dance skitters in and out of focus like a dream. But Nørgard’s ambiguity is not vagueness: the beginning of ‘Observations’ (1995) is tightly held together by canonic writing – appropriate for a piece in memory of Bartók. And the Pastoral (1988), taken from the music to the film Babette’s Feast, deliciously smears its simple, folk-like theme with unexpected harmonic twists. A very rewarding CD. Martin Cotton