Poul Ruders: Four Dances
17 June 2010
American Record Guide
Christopher L Chaffee
I have been listening to this constantly for over a month. Trying to write about it is a formidable challenge. I enjoy it, but finding the right adjectives to describe it is elusive at best. Influences are all over the map-lots of Stravinsky, some moments of Andriessen, a sprinkling of Stockhausen, with orchestration that could be Strauss, Sibelius, or Respighi. And so on. The program notes border on hyperbole sometimes, but they do eloquently describe this music, and summarizing them here would be rather lame. Just find this and explore it on your own. It is worth the effort.
What I can say with confidence is this-the playing is spectacular. This kind of music demands highly polished fundamental skills coupled with intense passion-a rare combination. This ensemble makes this challenging music sound easy. I am especially taken by the performance of the dance titled ‘Ecstatic'. The rhythm shifts constantly, timbres jump from one extreme to another, brass players wail out high notes with ease. ‘Nightshade' is a rather creepy piece, but again, the playing is spectacular. ‘Abysm'-from the year 2000-is the newest piece here. Having heard this, I will be looking for more music by Poul Ruders (b. 1949).