POUL RUDERS (b.1949): Nightshade for 10 Instruments (Capricorn; Oliver Knussen), The Second Nightshade (A Symphonic Nocturne) for Chamber Orchestra (Odense Symphony Orchestra; Paul Mann), Final Nightshade (An Adagio of the Night) for Orchestra (Odense SO; Scott Yoo).
Catalogue Number: 03Q069
Description: The Nightshade 'trilogy' is more of a loose assemblage of pieces written over a period of 17 years, of expanding scale and related by a general association with the sinister aspects of the night - a frankly Lovecraftian evocation of 'moonlight, tombstones and crypts' in the composer's own words - but not by thematic inter-relation or even much in the way of stylistic unity. The first piece is sonorous and sound-effect laden, the instrumentation chosen for the maximum contrasts in register and timbre, from the deepest bass rumblings and saurian snarling to the screeching of banshees and bats. The musical material is relatively uncomplicated, and even admits a measure of tonal harmony; here, the Gothic atmosphere's the thing. The Second Nightshade is more of a structured composition, building from shadowy beginnings a powerful, cumulative climax underpinned by pounding drums. This gives way to an eerily beautiful chorale-like epilogue, massive, solemn and tragic, an utterly desolate post-apocalyptic landscape illuminated by toxic, sickly moonbeams radiated by the highest partials of the orchestral texture. Final Nightshade reflects Ruders' more recent style; brooding and unmistakably nocturnal, it weaves a dense polyphonic texture out of extended solo lines and slow-moving tectonic masses of orchestral sonority, intensely chromatic - a few steps beyond the outer movements of Mahler's 9th, to which it bears some passing resemblances - but largely avoiding sonorism and sound effects.