Svend Hvidtfelt Nielsen: Dance and Detours
26 April 2012
American Record Guide
Svend Hvidtfelt Nielsen’s music doesn’t open up easily to the listener. There is abstraction here, and a lingering on various techniques that seems to make time pass slowly. The landmarks seem at first few, but after repeated hearings the music begins to make sense and show its true colors. And “colors” is appropriate: he has a way with delicate instrumental color and texture. Although not, perhaps, for the casual listener, the dedicated will be rewarded.
Dance and Detours, written in 2002 and revised in 2003, is a toccata for violin and nonet. Its juxtaposition of violin passages with low woodwinds and strings is especially interesting and quite witty. The timbral variety in the viol in i s as tounding, and Helge Slaatto handles the difficult score with moxie and expert ability.
In der Abendstille, from 1996, is a three-movement work for flute, oboe, bassoon, and harpsichord. The composer’s ability with counterpoint is in evidence; and the last movement, with its slow, conversational writing, is especially beautiful.
Aria and Dance, from 2004, is a short suite of dance movements for solo violin. It is, perhaps, the least effective of the works on this recording—the solo viol in format isn’ t the wide, delicate palette Nielsen works best with.
Of Princes and Dreams is without any doubt worth hearing. It is a five-movement suite from a chamber opera based on The Little Mermaid by Andersen, written for chamber orchestra—the ideal medium for Nielsen’s coloristic strengths. It was written in 1999-2000, and the second and third of its five movements are especially beautiful. This music is less abstract and less modernist—and in turn it is more readily accessible—but not lacking in substance.