PELLE GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN (1932-2016): Mirror II, Symphony, Antiphony, Incontri.
Catalogue Number: 10S072
Description: Symphony-Antiphony is a large, dramatic work in seven sections, but no-one familiar with Gudmundsen-Holmgreen's work would expect him to write a conventional 'symphony' - and rest assured, he didn't. The 'symphony' is the first resonantly pealing, propulsive section, just a few minutes long; the following 'antiphonies' re-examine selected aspects of this material in a wide range of different characters; the effect is perhaps of an exposition followed by a sequence of diverse developments and nothing else, or a very free take on the idea of variations. The initial material has a strong tonal basis, and so does most of the rest of the work, notwithstanding some rudely raucous interjections and polystylistic incongruities. At one point the 'theme' becomes a kind of piano ragtime episode, which transfers to the orchestra in a motoric frenzy that phases in and out of big band style. The following section presents the opening chords as a very tonal piano solo in 'new simplicity' style, surrounded by a haze of flageolet string chords. This tries to develop into syrupy romanticism, but is constantly under attack by discordant gestures that seem to have wandered in from completely different pieces of music. These different stylistic streams then vie for the privilege of ending the piece. Mirror II performs a similar process of multifaceted reflections on basic material, but here the transmuted fragments are by Sibelius, Beethoven and Stravinsky, presented entirely out of context in a whirling matrix of inexorable, pulsating mobility. These works are from the 1970s: Incontri (2010-12) demonstrates that at 80 the composer had lost none of his exuberant iconoclastic glee and delight in his compositional virtuosity. An agile little phrase journeys through a 'jungle' of orchestral 'meetings' - the piece is a veritable concerto for orchestra in all but name - as the texture becomes ever more chaotic and vigorously disruptive (with a few briefly traversed clearings along the way), until, much like the earlier works, the whole thing abruptly disintegrates and evaporates. BBC Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Dausgaard.