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Dacapo - Danmarks Nationale Musikantologi

Format:  SACD

Katalognummer:  6.220583

Stregkode:  747313158362

Udgivelsesmåned:  Nov 2010

Periode:  Sent 20. århundrede, Sent 20. århundrede, 21. århundrede


The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

20 January 2011  Musical Pointers
Peter Grahame Woolf

This is a mind-blowing CD which we have played several times. Not for the first time, a relatively little known composer from a Northern country has opened our ears afresh (the Norwegian lasse Thoresen was the last one).

This choral programme under Paul Hillier is dazzling. The texts, compelling in themselves, are set with complete originality; what a welcome change from the German romanticism which dominates the world of the Lieder.

Many are elliptical, brief and laconic as Japanese haiku, others of earth shattering power, all translated into unforgettable musical imagery. This was a composer experienced in the complexities of the '60s, latterly moving towards his own style, a radical "simplicity", a Danish variant of minimalism; brief pieces which are self-sufficient and uniquely satisfying to hear, ponder, and listen to again. 

Here we have Gudmundsen-Holmgreen in a wide gamut of styles, with gnomic titles like Examples; Statements & Three Stages, the last commisioned by Paul Hillier for a programme to include the Gibbons Cries of London. Hillier recommends non-Danish speakers to follow the texts closely whilst listening; they are all provided in parallel Danish/English texts, making it easy to do so.

Quite another matter is the Madrigals, which complete the disc with a tour-de-force. That title work of the disc, Four Madrigals from the Natural World (2001) to texts in English by Les Murray, is of such daunting complexity that I obtained the score, and at first found it as hard to the work as music. It was as hard at first to follow the music on the page as it must have been for the singers to learn them. The words are no more than jumping-off stimulants to the composer's imagination, giving a context for extravagant music. Vocalisations for Bats and Elephants take extended vocal techniques (especially stratospheric soprano melismata for the former) to the limits of complexity, which gradually reveals itself as of extreme beauty too.

These were sent to me in two versions, one for "6 to 12 part chorus", as recorded by the crack Ars Nova Copenhagen, the other for six voices, a version which might make rewarding study for some of our keenest singing students aspiring towards careers in contemporary opera. [Might there be an up-coming madrigal group in one of our music colleges/academies working towards following the achievement of this year's 8-cellos Cellophony at the annual PLGYA week?]

This great CD will leave you eager to explore further the music of , which is recorded extensively by Dacapo.

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