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Dacapo - The National Music Anthology of Denmark

Format:  CD

Catalogue Number:  8.226068

Barcode:  636943606827

Release month:  Feb 2012

Period:  Late 20th Century


Ib Nørholm: Tavole per Orfeo

02 July 2012  International Record Review
Ivan Moody

This unusual disc comprises songs for soprano and guitar, dating from different periods in the life of the Danish composer Ib Nørholm (b.1931). All of them, however, post-date his decision not to follow unquestioningly the kind of modernism in fashion at Darmstadt and elsewhere during the 1950s and 1960s: that is, they are proof of the composer's recognition of the need to (re-)exploit his own considerable lyrical gifts. The impressive Stilleliv ('Still Life') from 1968 also includes judicious use of percussion, which emphasizes the delicate, pictorial quality of these settings of 'still lives', and it is a perfect example of Nørholm's reconciliation of atonality with his rediscovered melodic gifts.

The series of songs that make up Blomster fra den danske poesis flora ('Flowers from the Flora of Danish Poetry') were originally written for voice and piano in 1966 and are heard here in an excellent arrangement by Per Pålsson. They are the fruits of the earlier rejection of complexity, and, beautifully written though they are, do not have the sophistication and poise of Stilleliv; one might conclude that they are in reality preparatory studies for the more mature style to come. Tavole per Orfeo (1967-69) is quite the opposite: it's a very effective piece of music theatre, the evocative poems by Poul Borum placed in the mouth of Eurydice (Else Torp is also called upon to play percussion), Orpheus being represented by the guitar. The writing is, thus, more dramatic, much tauter and grittier, though no less lyrical, and Torp makes a superb job of this impressive work.

Whispers of Heavenly Death, dating from 1987 and thus the most recent music recorded here, is a setting of Whitman. It's an austerely, beautiful work, with the guitar very much the voice's equal partner, and once again both Torp and Pålsson are in their element. The recording is both intimate and admirably clear.

Ivan Moody

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