OLE BUCK: Værker for sinfonietta
28 February 2017
Artistic Quality: 10
Sound Quality: 10
If you don’t know Danish composer Ole Buck, you’ve been missing something special. His music is approachable, imaginative, often nature-inspired, and crafted with remarkable precision. Each of these pieces is written for a different number of instruments or players (the notes unfortunately don’t tell us which ones), and each of them matters. Buck is a master of musical timing (the notes do say that, and it’s the truth). In Fiori di ghiaccio (Ice Flowers), for example, just when you think all nine players have made a contribution, in comes a trumpet injecting a new flash of color (and melody).
A Tree, for thirteen musicians, predictably features some wooden percussion, but nothing else about the piece follows conventional paths. The title is the only naive thing about it. [Untitled], for eight instruments, is the most austere work here, and also the shortest, but it’s also incredibly imaginative. It’s a sort of “Pictures at an Exhibition” dedicated to paintings that are, as you might have guessed, untitled. Use your imagination. Flower Ornament Music, for seventeen instruments, is a major statement. There are, perhaps, Asian overtones in the central section, with its crashing tam-tam, and the ebullient closing minutes have minimalist overtones (sound clip), but there’s nothing really like it in the modern repertoire.
The performances sound totally at home with the idiom; the players clearly relish their solo opportunities, and conductor Jesper Nordin has a good feel for the music’s carefully gauged pacing. Great sound, and just a great disc.