PER NØRGÅRD (b.1932): Symphony No. 2, Symphony No. 6 “At the End of the Day”.

Catalogue Number: 06R062

Label: Dacapo

Reference: 6.220645

Format: SACD hybrid

Price: $16.98

Description: Even a casual perusal of Nørgårds impressive symphonic output reveals the restless inventiveness of the composer's imagination; having produced a stunningly powerful essay in the style he espoused at a given stage of his career, he forthwith moved on to something quite different. The Second Symphony is his grand exposition of the Infinity Series, Nørgård's ever-expanding resource from which musical material can be derived by adding intervals and their inversions to a series of notes in a fractally expanding number pattern. The symphony begins with the 'birth' of the series out of breath sounds, a single tone, microtonal accretions around that first note, and then the triumphant arrival of the semitone from which the series grows in constant note values like an organically developing ground surrounded by increasingly varied textures and harmonies. A bell-like signal marks each 'phase' of 256 notes of the series; massive brass eruptions occur every four phases. The result is less mathematical, more dynamic than this description suggests; the layering of intervals over the constant pulse of the basic series affords every kind of contrasting material to pass by in a constantly unfolding sonic landscape. Thirty years later, Nørgard wrote the Sixth, a classically structured three-movement work, enigmatically titled 'At the End of the Day' (it seems more full of beginnings than endings, and having been followed by two more symphonies, appears not to have signified the end of anything). A kind of false exposition leads one to expect a rather modern, abstract orchestral tapestry, but this fades out into motoric drum taps, and when the first movement proper starts it turns out to be a wildly energetic allegro, with the kind of thrusting momentum one associates with Nielsen (though with some striking exceptions in a much less tonal idiom). After this tumultuous sustained explosion of energy the timbres descend into the depths of the contrabass register, heralding the second movement, a massive, tectonically grinding passacaglia. The layers of accompanying material gradually become more animated, heralding the outbreak of the finale with its dueling fanfares, eruptive gestures and irrepressible dynamism. At the end the texture unexpectedly clears and the door seems to open on a completely new landscape, ethereal and flooded with light, before the music abruptly ends as though to say 'to be continued...' Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra; John Storgårds.


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