Poul Ruders: Koncerter
12 October 2009
Classical Music Sentinel
A favorite modern day living composer of mine, the Danish Poul Ruders, was commissioned by the BBC in the mid 1990’s to compose a work to celebrate the tercentenary of Purcell’s death. Thus came about the major work on this CD, the Concerto In Pieces, a set of variations on a theme by Purcell. It was meant as a sort of sequel to ‘The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’ by Benjamin Britten, to be performed at the Last Night of the Proms. The connection, or resemblance of those two works ends at the use of a theme by Purcell. While Britten’s approach was musically straightforward, and based on instrumental groups within the orchestra, the approach taken by Ruders is quite different. This composer has always been a great orchestrator and manipulates the orchestra brilliantly in and around these 10 variations to create new and intriguing soundscapes at each and every turn. He has this strange ability to get sounds out of an orchestra you wouldn’t think existed. The main theme goes through some serious transformations along the way, but returns in full force during the exhilarating final variation. The conductor Thomas Sondergård delivers an accurate and thrilling account of this important new work. Great sound recording that captures all the orchestral magic.
The other works on this CD are the Violin Concerto No. 1 composed in 1981, which is a kind of mysterious tip of the hat to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and another fascinating experiment in orchestral sonics, a piece titled Monodrama, for percussion and orchestra, that never ceases to capture your attention during its 31 minutes.
If you are not familiar with Poul Ruders, take the plunge. The water might seem cold at first, but after a while you will welcome the change and enjoy the shock.