PER NØRGÅRD (b.1932): Sonatas for Solo Cello No. 1, No. 2 “In due tempi” and No. 3 “What - is the Word!”, POUL RUDERS (b.1949): Bravourstudien (L’Homme Armé Variations) for Solo Cello.
Catalogue Number: 01W047
Reference: ODE 1381-2
Description: Early works by two major Danish composers mostly known for their mature æsthetics manifested in large scale works. Nørgård was 20 when he wrote his First Cello Sonata, an expansive work in three movements. Pre-dating the composer’s formalisation of the "Infinity Series" by nearly a decade, the piece retains more than a few vestiges of conventional tonality, while exploring a technique of thematic metamorphosis to generate and develop its material. The work abounds in youthful energy, which links it to Nielsen, although Nørgård’s idiom sounds very little like the older composer. The first movement of the Second Sonata was originally composed in 1953 as Solo intimo, an eloquently expressive slow movement in arch form, which begins quietly but soon gathers momentum in a passionate hymn-like climax as powerful as anything in the solo cello repertory, before receding in hushed resignation. The second movement, which can also optionally be played as an independent work, is "Solo in scèna", a complementary fast movement from 1980, when the Infinity Series informed everything that Nørgård was doing. Considerably more modernistic, harmonically abrasive and timbrally rough-hewn, making use of a far wider range of instrumental techniques, it makes a striking contrast to the first movement. The Third Sonata is much more recent, from 1999. In three very short movements, two passionate "Prayers" bracketing a vehement "Outcry", it is a product of Nørgård's later, freer style. It’s odd title "What! - is the word" was borrowed from an abrupt utterance of Samuel Beckett's during a televised interview. Ruders' Bravourstudien is a set of nine variations in antique forms - Overture, Recitative, Serenade, Potpourri, Étude, Intermezzo, Fantasia and Variation classique - with a strong tonal/modal feel and an atmosphere of the archaic, which makes perfect sense when the theme is finally revealed at the end to have been the Mediæval folk melody L’homme armé. Ruders' inventive and original sense of instrumental timbre, familiar from his orchestral works, is in evidence throughout. Wilhelmina Smith (cello).