Sørensen: Minnewater; Sirenengesang; Shadowland; Clairobscur; The Deserted Churchyards

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LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: Minnewater; Sirenengesang; Shadowland; Clairobscur; The Deserted Churchyards
PERFORMER: Esbjerg Ensemble/Jules Van Hessen
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224075
Bent Sørensen is a Danish composer, born in 1958, a pupil of Ib Nørholm and Per Nørgard. As the booklet notes say, ‘the titles of many of his works reflect his fascination with dissolution and decay’, and this is half-lit music, with scarcely defined shapes restlessly slithering around. There are certain sounds and gestures which recur in all the pieces on this CD: lines moving by step, often sliding between notes; repetitive rhythmic patterns; tonality suddenly coming in and out of focus. In Minnewater, there’s an obsession with descending melodic lines, as weird, pulsing musical machines are set in motion, though the overall effect is somehow fluid and watery, rather than mechanical. Sirenengesang inhabits higher, less murky regions and is more conventionally melodic, even giving way to a gentle clarinet tune at the end – the song of the sirens? The booklet notes are somewhat oblique – in fact, the one for The Deserted Churchyards consists of no words: only a photograph. This is quite apt for the most obviously illustrative work on the CD, with its chorale-like cantus firmus, manic angelus bells, and concluding question mark. This is not comfortable music, but if you are willing to stretch your ears, there is real accomplishment here, not only in the composition, but in the level of performance. Martin Cotton