ELSE MARIE PADE (1924–2016) : Étude (1965) for violin and orchestra [ Spæd (Infant) – Munter (Cheerful) – Sværmerisk (Dreamy) – Dynamisk (Dynamic) – Kolerisk (Choleric) – Mild – Smertefuldt (Painful) – Længselsfuldt (Yearning) ], Parametre (1962) for string orchestra, Sept Pièces en couleurs (1953) (Suite for chamber orchestra) [Pièce blanche, Pièce rouge, Pièce jaune, Pièce verte, Pièce bleue, Pièce indigo, Pièce noire], Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra (1954).
Catalogue Number: 01Y033
Description: Pade was among the pioneers of electronic music and musique concrète, not just in Denmark but in general. As she tells it, as a sickly child, confined to bed with her own thoughts and the background noises of her environment, she started to conceive of a music of the real sounds of life, before the means to realise it had been invented. In her twenties she was able to hear examples of electronic sounds and manipulated recordings, around the time that Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire, Otto Luening, Vladimir Ussachevsky, and Pierre Schaeffer were formulating their concepts of electronic and electroacoustic music. She played jazz piano as a teenager, studied as a pianist at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in the late 1940s, and went on to study composition first with Vagn Holmboe, and later with Jan Maegaard, from whom she learned twelve-tone technique. However, after meeting Schaeffer and starting to write her own electronic music in the 1950s, which brought her to the attention of Stockhausen, Boulez, and the Darmstadt group, she was known only for these activities, and tellingly never even referred to her output in other forms in interviews up to the end of her life- you would think that she was born hearing electronic music in her head, and single-mindedly pursued it to the exclusion of all else. This important recording proves otherwise. Sept Pièces en couleurs (1953), written as her career in electronic music was taking off, sounds relatively traditional for its time - based on a note-row, and largely atonal, it nevertheless abounds in generous, lush tonal harmony and Klangfarbenmelodie techniques as befits its synæsthetic depiction of five colours of the rainbow, plus black and white. Had she chosen to pursue this direction, Pade could clearly have been an orchestral composer of accomplishment and originality; the strongly characterised tableaux, rhythmic alacrity, and colourful orchestration could easily be those of a ballet suite. As it is, the work is substantial in scale at 35 minutes, and both memorable and entirely approachable. No.3 (yellow) in particular, with its accelerating percussive pulse and maddening crescendo, has to be a wryly snarky atonal commentary on Ravel's Bolero, "red" is a waltz, "green" seems to nod to "Petrushka", "indigo" is a Bartókian nocturne, and the Stygian march-finale is like Mahlerian Nachtmusik reimagined by B.A. Zimmerman. A thoroughly engaging work throughout. The Trumpet Concerto was probably mostly composed earlier than the Colour Pieces, and is in a similar, thoroughly un-academic vein, though dodecaphonic. The first section contains clear references to Nielsen's and Mahler’s Fifth Symphonies (side drum and trumpet respectively), and the music takes on a sardonic, marching character, with jazzy interjections. The middle section is the concerto’s "slow movement", with a naïve, jazz-club trumpet tune sounding over a spare, in places almost pointillistic, accompaniment. The section ends as a kind of solemn "taps" with a nocturnal atmosphere. The side drum and pointillist entr'acte which preceded the previous movements introduces the jaunty, marionette march-finale. The other two works were written in the 1960s, demonstrating that even that far into her electronic music career, Pade still thought of herself as an orchestral composer. The influence of her work in electronic music is clearly audible, though, in 1965's Étude, with its frequent violin glissandi apparently emulating tones from a wave generator; the fluidly dissonant orchestral textures, including sliding clusters, suggest the influence of Penderecki or Ligeti. There is no remaining suggestion of Romantic harmony by this time, though the piece’s division into sections of contrasting character, naïvely or ironically described by the composer as Infant’, ‘Cheerful’, ‘Dreamy’, ‘Dynamic’, ‘Choleric’, ‘Mild’, ‘Painful’ and ‘Yearning’. The violin's wailing glissandi in the final section, an air raid siren rather than a sine wave generator, may very well refer to the composer’s experiences in the Danish resistance in WWII. Parametre (1962) is in three movements, with sonoristic and pointillistic textures in abundance. There is, though, a distinct sense of the work not taking itself too seriously, as the sudden appearance of a tonal chord, or a Kagel-like distorted reference to a classical gesture, frequently disrupt the stability of the atonal idiom. The music is complex and intricate, and, like Étude, contains sounds and textures that are clearly the product of thinking of acoustical structures from a standpoint of electronic expertise. Christina Åstrand, violin; Michael Frank Møller, trumpet; Malmö Opera Orchestra, Cond. Joachim Gustafsson