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Dacapo - The National Music Anthology of Denmark

Format:  CD

Catalogue Number:  8.226034

Barcode:  636943603420

Release month:  May 2009

Period:  Late 20th Century


Poul Ruders: Koncerter

15 June 2009  David's Review Corner
David Denton

Describing himself as a self-taught composer, Poul Roders is one of the major names in Danish contemporary music, having earned his early living as a church organist and freelance pianist. Born in 1949, he studied both instruments at the Royal Danish Consevatoire, at the same time developing a style of composition that moves freely between tonality and atonality.

The Concerto in Pieces was composed for London’s annual ‘Last Night of the Proms’ in 1996, and, by using a theme by Purcell, came head to head with Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. It does not really form an alternative, though the ten variations take us around the orchestra with a sense of fun, and, like Britten, it ends with a brilliant fugue. Often noisy, always full of interesting sounds, it proves modern music can be instantly likeable.

The Violin Concerto, from 1981, has been recorded before, and stands among the most compelling concertos in the second half of the 20th century. Beginning in minimalist mode, it expands in atonality before reaching the virtuoso finale that harks back a couple of hundred years in its construction.

The most extensive piece on the disc, Monodrama, is scored for solo percussionist and orchestra. Often highly repetitive in enlarged minimalism, it would be wrong to describe it as atonal, this long score - over 30 minutes - being a journey through a world of sound and rhythms. I needed  a few hearings before eventually loving the high impact work. The soloists, Mathias Reumert in Monodrama, and Erik Heide in the concerto, are outstanding, Heide producing unfailingly accurate intonation. The Aarhus Symphony give highly committed performances directed by Thomas Sondergard, and the engineering delivers clarity in thick textures.

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