PER NØRGÅRD (b.1932): Sonata (1949), Toccata, Sonata, Op. 6, FINN LYKKEBO (1932-1984): 5 Tableaux, LARS AKSEL BISGAARD (b.1947): 4 Stadier, Op. 1, Barcarole, Walking.
Catalogue Number: 05R064
Label: Grand Piano
Description: The three little-performed early pieces by Nørgård show the young composer's remarkable proficiency, and if the first two sound nothing like mature Nørgård they are thoroughly enjoyable in their own right. The very early sonata, written when the composer was still in his teens, is broadly neoclassical, though already we can hear the composer experimenting with rhythmic and harmonic structures in a way that suggests the direction his music will soon take. The three movements are an energetic introduction, a lyrical pastorale and a playful finale full of youthful high-jinks, with a rather silly ironic circus tune and an unexpected flirtation with jazz. The Toccata dates from the same year. The central movement is a fugue, plainly a tribute to Bach, an ambitious attempt to observe the formal structure before the composer had received much formal instruction in counterpoint. The outer toccata movements have much in common with the sonata's finale, playful and energetic, and with an even greater sense of pianistic bravura. The single-movement sonata from 1954, the first piano work that the composer acknowledged, demonstrates far greater maturity. The imprint of Liszt's sonata on its taut structure is very apparent, and also in some of its gestures. The composer acknowledges the work's indebtedness to Sibelius and Holmboe. The harmonic thinking is far more asvanced than in the very early pieces, and this is a concentrated work of real substance, requiring considerable virtuosity. Lykkebo was a former Nørgard pupil. He embraced serialism, and these economical, poetic little pieces are predominantly atonal, though with a certain descriptive sense of color and mood. Bisgaard in turn studied with Lykkebo, and later with Nørgard. Stadier is related to Dante's Commedia, and the composer acknowledges the influence of Ruders, Nordheim, and more distantly, Liszt, on its widely divergent style. The first section is highly dissonant and ferociously virtuosic. The second is relatively tonal, with a feeling of motion within an overall stasis - a metaphor for Purgatory, perhaps - with an almost minimalistic feel at the beginning. A return of the sharp dissonances and frantic activity of the beginning leads to the final section in which the soul ascends into light - and glowing tonal harmony - in a highly effective resolution of the existential journey. The Barcarolle is a charming miniature, tonal and clearly related to its romantic models, and Walking, inspired by Thoreau's essay, is in similar vein, with an easy-going motion that leads the material to modulate away from the simple theme that opens the work into different pastoral landscapes, and back again. Carl Petersson (piano).