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Norgaard: Seadrift, Nova Genitura, Fons Laetitiae / Vist, Schreiber, Sondergard, Et Al

Release Date: 03/31/2009 
Label:  Dacapo   Catalog #: 8226067   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Per Norgaard
Performer:  Tine RehlingToke MoldrupFrans HansenMarit Ernst,   ... 
Conductor:  Thomas SondergårdCasper Schreiber
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 55 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

NØRGÅRD Nova genitura. 1 Seadrift. 2 Fons laetitiae 3 Bente Vist (sop); Caspar Schreiber, cond; 1 Thomas Søndergård, cond; 2 Marit Ernst (rcr); 1 Gert Sørensen (crotales); 1 Bordil Read more Rørbech (vn); 1,2 Toke Møldrup (vc); 1,2 Fredrik Bock (lt, Baroque gtr); 1,2 Allan Rasmussen (hpd); 1,2 Nikolai Ronimus (rcr, crumhorn); 2 Frans Hansen (perc); 2 Tine Rehling (hp) 3 dacapo 8.226067 (55:28)

From the astonishing octave leap that opens Nova genitura , the first of the three works presented here, I was captivated by the melodic freshness and original sound of this music. Per Nørgård, none of whose music I know, is an unexpected and startling discovery. A student of Vagn Holmboe, Nørgård (b. 1932) is an extremely prolific Danish composer whose music has undergone several stylistic changes. In his early music, he was concerned with the idea of metamorphosis (strongly influenced by Sibelius), in which compact rhythmic and melodic seeds are constantly transformed and developed. Beginning in the late 1960s, he developed the “infinity series,” a process of pitch serialization, as well as a “growth principle” in which fast melodies emerge from related slower ones (sometimes called “fractal music”), and rhythms based on the proportions of the Golden Section. The result is a harmonious, balanced-sounding kind of music exemplified by his Symphony No. 3, composed in 1972–75, a work whose effect has been compared to the Beethoven Ninth and the Mahler Eighth. The three pieces recorded here are from the same period.

Searching as one does for comparisons when hearing something new, I thought of the vocal techniques of Meredith Monk, the sound of George Crumb’s wonderful Walt Whitman song cycle Apparition , or perhaps Górecki’s post-modern striving for simplicity, but none of these really compare in a significant way. One is reminded of early music in general, and perhaps Hildegard of Bingen in particular, though Nørgård’s vocal lines feature gorgeous wide intervals that are like nothing from the medieval period. Nova genitura and Seadrift were composed for the Danish Baroque ensemble Sub Rosa, and all three works on this CD show how interest in the rigorous techniques of early music was mixed with contemporary music in the 1970s.

This recording features two works for soprano and instrumental ensemble, and one for soprano and harp, originally composed for lute. Nova genitura and Fons laetitiae (“Fountain of Joy”) are settings of religious texts, and Seadrift is a setting of a Whitman poem, also used by Delius. Ivan Hansen’s very thorough liner notes tell us that in the 1970s, Nørgård wished to explore beauty and the nature of joy in music, contrary to the musical trends of the decade, and indeed the music has a soothing, if disorienting loveliness befitting the devotional character of two of the three works. But there are “thorns among the roses” that account for why these pieces hold one’s attention. Different tempos occasionally occur simultaneously and the music vacillates unpredictably from consonance and rhythmic regularity to dissonance and considerable rhythmic complexity in a way that brings to mind a voyage through calm or turbulent seas. This makes obvious sense in Seadrift , the most dynamic work here, in which percussion adds drama to the ensemble, and the odd, piercing sound of the crumhorn has the last word. But the sea is also a presence in Nova genitura , about which Nørgård writes: “[T]he word ‘Maria’ is associated—in sound—with the Latin word for the sea, mare , and thus she becomes the Star of the Sea, Maris stella.” Fons laetitiae is the calmest piece, meditative but never mindless. Nothing in it is the least bit abrasive, but Nørgård’s vocal lines are gently surprising. Over repeated hearings, the melodies become memorable.

Much of the radiance of these performances is due to the singing of soprano Bente Vist. Her intonation in Nørgård’s high, soaring lines is perfect, her breath control is impressive indeed, and her English, in Seadrift , is unaccented. Her sound is very, very pure. Accompanying Vist is a collection of mostly treble instruments, with the harpsichord playing a very prominent part in Nørgård’s ingenious scoring. The sound of the recording is very clean and focused.

In my short time as a reviewer for Fanfare , this is the most intriguing CD that I’ve received, and I’m eager to hear Nørgård’s Third Symphony.

FANFARE: Paul Orgel
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Works on This Recording

Seadrift: no 1, Being together by Per Norgaard
Performer:  Tine Rehling (Harp), Toke Moldrup (Cello), Frans Hansen (Percussion),
Marit Ernst (Recorder), Fredrik Bock (Guitar), Fredrik Bock (Lute),
Nikolaj Ronimus (Crumhorn), Nikolaj Ronimus (Recorder), Bente Vist (Soprano),
Gert Sorensen (Crotales), Bodil Rorbech (Violin), Bente Vist (),
Allan Rasmussen (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Thomas Sondergård,  Casper Schreiber
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1978; Denmark 
Length: 6 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Seadrift: no 2, Torn apart by Per Norgaard
Performer:  Fredrik Bock (Lute), Fredrik Bock (Guitar), Frans Hansen (Percussion),
Toke Moldrup (Cello), Nikolaj Ronimus (Recorder), Nikolaj Ronimus (Crumhorn),
Tine Rehling (Harp), Gert Sorensen (Crotales), Bodil Rorbech (Violin),
Bente Vist (Soprano), Bente Vist (), Allan Rasmussen (Harpsichord),
Marit Ernst (Recorder)
Conductor:  Thomas Sondergård,  Casper Schreiber
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1978; Denmark 
Length: 12 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Fons laetitiae by Per Norgaard
Performer:  Bente Vist (Soprano), Tine Rehling (Harp), Bente Vist ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975; Denmark 
Length: 19 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Nova Genitura, for soprano & ensemble by Per Norgaard
Performer:  Nikolaj Ronimus (Crumhorn), Nikolaj Ronimus (Recorder), Bodil Rorbech (Violin),
Gert Sorensen (Crotales), Bente Vist (), Bente Vist (Soprano),
Allan Rasmussen (Harpsichord), Fredrik Bock (Guitar), Fredrik Bock (Lute),
Marit Ernst (Recorder), Tine Rehling (Harp), Toke Moldrup (Cello),
Frans Hansen (Percussion)
Conductor:  Thomas Sondergård,  Casper Schreiber
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 15 Minutes 53 Secs. 

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