Sørensen: Violin Concerto ‘Sterbende Gärten’; The Echoing Garden

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COMPOSERS: Sørensen
LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: Violin Concerto ‘Sterbende Gärten’; The Echoing Garden
PERFORMER: Rebecca Hirsch (violin)Åsa Bäverstam (soprano)Martyn Hill (tenor); Danish National RSO & Choir/Leif Segerstam
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224039 DDD
Born in 1958, Bent Sørensen is a member of the generation of Danish composers that also includes Poul Ruders and Hans Abrahamsen, which has raised the international profile of Danish new music very significantly over the past decade. Like that of his contemporaries, Sørensen’s music cannot be ascribed to a particular school – it absorbs elements from a wide variety of stylistic sources, and fuses them into a convincing, coherent whole.

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The two pieces here are among the largest he has written to date. The three-movement violin concerto Sterbende Gärten, completed in 1993, manages to combine traditional solo figuration and long, frankly lyrical melodic lines with textures and instrumental colours that suggest Ligeti as a source, though the impulse for the work – an evocation of an overgrown garden in which the outlines of its former order may be glimpsed through the tangle of undergrowth – seems unabashedly Romantic. The piece grew out of a small melodic fragment of The Echoing Garden, the forty-minute choral piece from 1992 with which it’s paired here; the text is based on a story by the Swiss Albert Cohen, though that’s combined with extracts from Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet) and Rilke (the Duino Elegies); it’s a study of decay, of decadent decline, and that kind of late-Romantic feeling pervades the music, full of finely wrought choral and orchestral textures and a strong sense of creepy unease. Andrew Clements