Per Nørgård: String Quartets 7, 8, 9 and 10
29 March 2010
The same coloristic worlds that are explored in Nørgård's symphonies are still at work in the more intimate genre of the string quartet and the Kroger Quartet sounds to be the perfect vessel for these four works. Each of the quartets on this recording were written in collaboration with the Kroger Quartet and these later quartets span the early 90s to the mid 2000s (Quartet 10 is from 2005).
Quartet 7 is a very extroverted display of Nørgård's colorful style in an approachable harmonic and gestural language. Quartet 8, subtitled Night Descending Like Smoke, spans 5 short movements and captures moods and materials from Nørgård's chamber opera Nuit des Hommes. The Kroger quartet nails the tense sound, terse language, and microtonality. This quartet is my personal favorite on the disc, even though all four quartets are given rich and nuanced performances and once again display DaCapo's knack for a transparent capturing of sound.
Quartet 9, Into the Source, tracks the notion of moving against the flow of things. The gestures are energetic and driving throughout, even in the calmer second movement. There is a sense of disquiet that I find foreshadows much of what I hear in the depths of Nørgård's Symphony #7.
Quartet 10, Harvest Timeless, is the only quartet in a single movement and the long lyrical line that laces the whole movement together feels deeply personal. This might sound strange, but I feel like this quartet is like eavesdropping. I hear the joy and serenity from Nørgård's Symphony #3 doing battle with the darker tone of Symphony #7 throughout this quartet. Throughout it all, The Kroger Quartet has chameleon-like powers of color shifting and timbral transformation. If you are into Nørgård in any capacity, neither of these discs should escape your ears.