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Dacapo - The National Music Anthology of Denmark

Format:  CD

Catalogue Number:  8.226549

Barcode:  636943654927

Release month:  May 2011

Period:  Late 20th Century


Distant Still - Trios for violin, horn and piano

21 November 2011  American Record Guide
Kil Patrick

The presence of Brahms and Ligeti are felt whenever the topic is horn trios, but these Danish composers from three generations seem intent on forging their own paths. The three-movement, 15-minute Near Still Distant Still (2005), by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen (b 1932), is spare and strange. I consists of tentative violin gestures with occasional meek utterances by horn and piano. After that odd introduction, the brief and angry II is something of a relief. Its quiet ending leads to a strange, eerie III with questioning instrumental lines and occasional spoken sounds and words ("yeah?") that raise still more questions. The big piece is the four-movement, 27- minute Horn Trio (1998) by Poul Ruders (b 1949), whose harmonies are atonal and melodic gestures are abstract.

I (Alpha) has long, connected horn and violin lines, sporadic piano comments, and a few unisons that seem like oases. A little perpetual-motion II (Jewel) has multiphonics by the horn player. III (Turning Point) is a long, impressive horn cadenza with eerie pitch-bending and sympathetic vibration in the piano strings. IV (Omega) is a maniacal, high-energy finale where the musicians first vie for supremacy, then return to the quiet tracery of I. The 19-minute Horn Trio (2007) by Soren Eichberg (b 1973) bears some kinship with the one by Brahms. The instruments speak a common (often quite tonal) language and seem to work toward a common goal. Although there are strange moments, as well as ones so intense that Brahms would find them incomprehensible, this is a fascinating and powerful piece. Potent playing by violinist Christina Arstrand (Danish National Symphony), horn player Jakob Keiting (Copenhagen Philharmonic), and pianist Per Salo.

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