PELLE GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN (1932-2016): For Violin and Orchestra, ALLAN GRAVGAARD MADSEN (b.1984): Nachtmusik for Violin, Piano and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 01V058
Description: The unassumingly titled work that the composer refused to call a concerto, mainly on account of its unusual structure and processes (though a more conventional composer probably wouldn’t have troubled to make the distinction), is absolute, archetypal Gudmundsen-Holmgreen. The work is like a journey, full of events, exotic locales, drama and danger, mystery, seduction and simple, unadorned beauty. The composer’s sense of dramaturgy is second to none. As he puts it: 'When you put simple things together, it creates a kind of chaos. I like this, and the idea of, by degrees, being able to find your way out of the material – first being shocked, and then being able to see what it’s about.’ The work introduces the protagonist, setting out wide-eyed into a resonant, timbrally striking landscape, initially full of promise and mythic possibilities, but soon overcast by storm clouds. These recede and a slow, gentle, meditative section follows in an Arcadian glade where the soloist duets with a mysterious piper who plays an exotic, middle-Eastern tune. An episode of wild activity suggests that the protagonist has fallen in with some questionable, and possibly dangerous company. Having escaped the threat, the violin indulges in some introspection in a reflective cadenza - and forthwith plunges into chaos again, in a powerfully rhythmic climax inhabited by infernal machines and snarling monsters. Another pause for contemplation, and then the emergence of a folk-like tune that becomes an enveloping, glowing shroud that surrounds and serenades the protagonist home. Madsen's double concerto is original and powerful, and it is very clear why he regarded Gudmundsen-Holmgreen as a mentor and inspiration, as this work follows a trajectory very similar to that of many of the older composer’s works, of progressing inexorably toward a wholly logical conclusion of emotional catharsis, unguessable from its ambiguous beginnings. Most of the first movement literally consists of one note, E, passed back and forth between the soloists, gradually expanding its range of articulation, color, and rhythm. Little by little, octave transpositions occur, the level of activity increases, then the orchestra joins in and divergent pitches begin to emerge with increasing density and momentum. A pulsating rhythm and full, consonant harmonies herald the work's throbbing, post-minimalistic propulsive central movement. Harmony and timbre continue to expand, and a sudden accelerando leads to the fast, effervescent, dancing finale. Cristina Åstrand (violin), Per Salo (piano), Danish National Symphony Orchestra; Ryan Bancroft, Nicholas Collon.