Gunnar Berg: Chamber Music Works with Piano
25 April 2012
American Record Guide
Gunnar Berg was born in 1909. He studied with Honegger and Messiaen, and his musical language was highly influenced by Messiaen’s “modes of limited transposition”. His music is modernist and staunchly atonal, and often serial. Tronque (truncated), from 1969, is a work for xylorimba, cello, and piano. It is stark and difficult pointillism.
Tobrud (thaw) is for mezzo-soprano, violin, bass clarinet, and piano. The vocal writing is lyrical, considering the harmonic language. The text is a poem by Ivan Malinovski concerning the end of the world—not a surprising choice for Berg, who was active in the Danish resistance during World War II.
Pour Violon et Piano and Pour Deux Violoncelleset Piano (version 2) are intensely modernist and difficult works—the latter in three short movements. The performances here are stunning, but the music is next to impenetrable.
Prosthesis, for saxophone and piano, is from 1954. One of Gunnar Berg’s first serial works, it uses dramatic pitch bending in the saxophone line, and it is one of the most emotionally compelling works on the recording.