"The space of silence can be saturated
with the music we have heard, and it can be
filled with the music we long to hear."
features new Danish music for clarinet. The four pieces range in time and space
from Niels Viggo Bentzon's neoclassically inspired solo sonata composed in the
1950s to two brand new works for clarinet, which see their first recording with
this CD. One of the new works is Ib Nørholm's solo piece A Song of Breath and Wings, written at the urging of the clarinettist
Jens Schou. The other new work is not really a work in the classic sense, but a
template for improvisation, created in a collaboration between the composer Per
Nørgård and Jens Schou. It is called Prelude to Mythic Morning. Of the music Jens Schou writes:
"In 1999, at
my request, Per Nørgård wrote his large choral work Mythic Morning for 12 voices and bass clarinet - a setting of the
Danish poet Pia Tafdrup's poem of the same name from the poetry collection Dronningeporten ("The Queen's Gate"). In this work Per
Nørgård exploits the harmonic spectrum of the bass clarinet. It was in
connection with my presentation to him of a kind of harmonic-playing based on
my many years' cultivation of the harmonic spectrum of the bass clarinet that
Per Nørgård became aware of a special tone row and its pattern of harmonics.
The tone row was made the formal basis of the bass clarinet part in the choral
work Mythic Morning."
"In Prelude to Mythic Morning sonority itself is made into a theme. The
music, as it sounds improvisationally, really only has an obligation to the
resonance of the space. The tone row, and thus the tonal basis of the
improvisation process, have been indicated by Per Nørgård. In the tone row or
formula pointed out by Per Nørgård the different harmonics interact - the
third, fifth, seventh, ninth and eleventh partials - in ways that recall the
imperceptible coming and going of the tide. A magnetic attraction between the
notes makes the row an ideal basis for contemplative improvisational expression
as in Prelude to Mythic Morning. The great question of what came first -
the notes or the music? - arises in the oddest way in this harmonic-playing. It
is asked again and again. Small melodic - but also rhythmic - approaches can be
found in the harmonic weave of the playing ... In ‘the blue space' composer and
musician improvise together."
Mythic Morning for choir and bass clarinet is to be
published in 2004. It is being recorded by Jens Schou and the vocal ensemble
Ars Nova on Dacapo-CD 8.226019.
has chosen to record Prelude
to Mythic Morning with Per
Nørgård's Letters of Grass - a work for clarinet and piano that is a spin-off
from Nørgård's collaboration with Jens Schou's trio of many years LINensemble
on the work that gave the trio its name - Nørgård's LIN
for clarinet, cello and piano from 1986.
About Letters of Grass Jens Schou says: "The Chinese title of the
work, Cao Shu (grass writing), is the name of a Chinese
calligraphy type whose characteristic feature is that it is executed very
quickly and with spontaneity. The forming of the characters is inextricably
linked with the content of the text. By simply looking at the appearance of the
text the observer/reader should be able to get a clear impression of the
content. The slightly offhand lines of the lettering have the object of
expressing what cannot be said by words alone." Letters of Grass is dedicated to Jens Schou and Erik Kaltoft.
had wanted a work based on a hymn from the composer Ib Nørholm. However, it is
not so much Thomas Laub's simple hymn tune after Grundtvig's text Sov sødt, barnlille! ("Sleep Sweetly, Little Child") as its
components - first and foremost the introductory fifth leap of the melody -
that forms the basis of Ib Nørholm's solo piece A Song of Breath and Wings. Jens Schou says:
piece is divided into three sections: prologue, main section, epilogue. The
first interval of the hymn tune is a fifth, and a leap of a fifth also opens
the prologue ... The actual main section, Song, also begins with an instrumental fifth leap - a real leap, since it is a
fifth plus two octaves. In this leap the whole inwardness of the hymn is
evident. The lowest note of the clarinet becomes the solid rock, the ostinato,
and a delicate cantabile unfolds high up below the ceiling ... The quintessence
of the hymn colours the further development in all its radical restructuring of
the material of the hymn, including all its omissions. The unfolding of the
piece towards its own epilogue is like a lyrical paraphrase of the concept-pair
creation/re-creation; or with an expression used by Nørholm, contra-creation." A Song of Breath and Wings is dedicated to Jens Schou.
Viggo Bentzon, all talk of inspiration was far too easy a matter, in conflict
with the realities - far too "poeticizing", as he himself put it. In Bentzon's
essay collection Seks
Monologer from 1956 he says
of creation - and thus of inspiration - that "I have never, after finishing a
work, been able afterwards to relate its special character to any particular
impression - indeed not even a mood! The memory of the moment of its genesis is
diffused into a mist and is not linked with any particular emotional content."
statement comes from the exact period when Niels Viggo Bentzon was composing
his masterpiece Sonata for
Clarinet and Piano op. 63",
Jens Schou emphasizes, and continues:
certain is that for Niels Viggo Bentzon it was crucial to write truly dreaming
music, as here in the second movement of the sonata (Largo); not, as has so
often been done, to call the slow movement Träumerei and then claim that the inspiration came from a dream! In the same way,
the whirling, dancing lightness that is so excellently manifested in the third
movement is neither heralded nor contained in the movement name Rondo that it
has been given."
"Thousands of movements from all ages bear the
designation Allegro. The first movement of the clarinet sonata is an early,
jazz-inspired, virtuosically flowing, sanguine and spirited exploitation of the
classical sonata form. The name Allegro thus tells us nothing about the
specific vitality of this particular movement. The formal straitjacket is
rather a matter of bringing out metaphorical imagery."
Thomas Michelsen, 2004