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PER Nørgård Symphonies Nos. 3 and 7
Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vocal Ensemble and National Choir/Dausgaard

Dacapo 6.220547 [Recorded 2007-2008]

For collectors in UK, and in other countries which do not give due notice and exposure to contemporary Scandinavian composers [see also Thoresen and Musical Insularity !], this is an indispensable release and bids fair to be one of my orchestral CDs of the year.

In 2000 we had a chance to meet Per Nørgård in London, at the Almeida Opera & Hoxton New Music Days (see review of his interview there and of two of his symphonies). I have caught his music whenever (occasionally) possible, and treasure his great opera Siddharta [DACAPO 8.224031-32].

These two symphonies, No 7 the latest, are amongst the most important by a great composer who never repeats himself, either in complete works, or in the evolving of melodies whose motifs continually change (he discusses this principle, originating in his childhood composing, in the phone interview posted by Naxos in connection with this release).

These are both symphonies that I have played and replayed several times, trying to get ever closer to their richness. No 3 is a massive 43 minutes, a new world of Norgard's music combining his 'infinity series' with 'natural harmonic and subharmonic series and a rhythmic principle based on the Golden Section'... If that means little to you, don't worry, this is all music which sounds strange and new and unacademic, ending with a great chorus. No 7, with its introduction of 14 tuned toms, is no less arresting and innovative, but is relatively concise in three normal length movements crowded with incident.

The recordings, made with the composer present, sound splendid and the works are thoroughly analysed and commentated by musicologist Jorgen Jensen who doesn't want to spoil some surprises, but thinks that "there are such great differences between words and music that it will probably do no harm"...

Do click on each of the links (which are integral) in this short welcome for the CD, and buy it even if it is the only disc you can afford this month...

Peter Grahame Woolf

Hear new interview with Per Norgard

No 3 has been previously released by Chandos - see review [ - - Norgard's most popular work, and justly so - - the crowning achievement in his third musical phase and the most brilliant work he wrote based on pure infinity series processes, a melodic construction based on "projection of intervals", a process resembling the similar results of fractal algorhithms - - a monumental work, the composer makes the greatest exploration of the unity behind all things that he percieved in nature and wished to express in music - - Norgard experiments more freely with his melodic process, letting the infinity series recede into the background while other melodies based on various manipulations of the series and on his own intuition come to the fore. In addition, Norgard adds a beautiful harmonic element based on the acoustic scale and a new sense of rhythm derived from the Golden Section ratio - - ]