Ib Nørholm: Tavole per Orfeo
28 March 2012
David's Review Corner
Even before Ib Norholm had left secondary school he had composed several works, including an opera based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen. He went on to attend the Royal Danish Academy and there followed a career as an organist, music critic and progressive composer. For many years his sizeable catalogue of works looked towards serialism as the only way that Danish music would enter the 21st century. Then in the mid-1960's he changed direction to a highly personalised style that returned to tonality and lyricism, and from therein he became one of the most prolific and highly regarded composers in northern Europe. In the year 2001 he resigned his position as professor at the Royal Danish Academy, though his output of new works remained undiminished.
The present disc concentrates on vocal music written in the second-half of the 1960's, the earliest, the Flowers from the Flora of Danish Poetry, written for soprano and piano, but here recorded in the composer's arrangement with guitar accompaniment. Norholm was here working in the most simple and pleasing style of tonality that reminds one of American music in the 1930's, but in the year following he shows a continuing fascination in the possibilities of atonality with Tavole per Orfeo (Tablets for Orpheus). Three songs reflect Eurydice's view of the famous story complete with the singer's percussion accompaniment, and are interspersed with three guitar solos played by Orpheus reflecting on the scene. The following year the five songs for soprano, guitar and percussion, Stilleliv (Still Life), finds an increasingly ‘modern' language that takes us to the abstract sounds of the 1987 Whisper's of Heavenly Death.
In Else Torp we have that pure and almost innocent voice that seems ideal for the music, and she is well partnered by Per Palsson's admirable guitar playing.
© 2012 David's Review Corner