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03/01/2017

'Sørensen is a modernist who speaks of the here-and-now'

LINER NOTES · With the album Mignon Bent Sørensen proves himself as a very much modern voice, embracing both the absolute here-and-now and a lurking nostalgia. Andrew Mellor provides the liner notes for this new release.

Copyright: Lars Skaaning

by Andrew Mellor

Composers of the past may have viewed silence as a void to be filled; the blank page that stares up at the writer. But for Bent Sørensen, silence is proving a commodity of increasing preciousness and fertility. More and more, silence is casting its spell over Sørensen’s music – both as an integral and provocative element of the discourse, and as a sound so suddenly and so beautifully resonant that his own notes must tread carefully and quietly out of its way.

In that sense, we can talk of Sørensen’s career as a process of distillation as much as development. He has written for single instruments and for gargantuan orchestras with multiple soloists attached. But whatever the scoring, the sonic fingerprint of Sørensen’s music remains consistent. That goes beyond overarching goals like textural beauty and delicacy of counterpoint, and reaches into the music’s actual anatomy: its standard-interval melodies; its distinctive smudged tonality; its frequent high registers; its supplementary vocal sounds or physical instructions; its many echo effects and thematic reflections.

‘From the moment we are born, there is one way – a slow slippage into decline.’ So said Søren­sen in the mid 1990s when his violin concerto Sterbende gärten was first performed. Those words could preface almost every work he has written since; perhaps they also sowed the seeds of his music’s increasing quietness. But despite the neo-Romantic longing and teasing obsession with the past that characterises his work, Sørensen is a modernist who speaks of the here-and-now. When musical ‘traditions’ are glimpsed in his pieces – passing fugues or folk songs, fragments from old masters – they are partially concealed or yanked out of view before they can become reassuring or trite. That, or they appear wrecked from the start: too decrepit to touch, emotionally unavailable. Sørensen makes them so, just as he himself summons the silences with which his notes so delicately dance.

Read the rest of Andrew Mellor's liner notes for Mignon.


BENT SØRENSEN

Mignon

Katrine Gislinge, piano
Lapland Chamber Orchestra
John Storgårds, conductor & violin

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