PER NØRGÅRD (b.1932): Symphony No. 4, Symphony No. 5.
Catalogue Number: 06R063
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: The Fourth Symphony was the product of Nørgård's 'Wölfli period' after a chance encounter with the schizophrenic artist's work profoundly affected him, throwing into crisis the systematized, rational æsthetic that he had pursued via the Infinity Series. What is remarkable is the way in which Nørgård marshals his compositional forces into a terrifyingly vivid representation of Wölfli's intricately detailed, irrational world that obeyed only its internal chaotic logic. Taking its title from a proposed, unfulfilled and certainly unfulfillable musical work imagined by Wölfli, the symphony is in two parts, the first less layered than Nørgård's works to that point, instead consisting of clear, precise textures of overwhelming detail, like bizarre mosaics enlarged to intolerable magnitude - or indeed, like Wölfli's own crammed, claustrophobia-inducing drawings full of symbols and 'found' objects and ideas. In the second part the fantastic dream-world explodes in menace, its forms towering, huge, malevolent and possessing unfathomable energy - like a nightmarish distorted looking-glass inversion of the life-affirmation of Nielsen's Inextinguishable symphony. At the beginning of the next decade, the Fifth Symphony seems to confront the chaos and suggest that it can be overcome. Now using an harmonic system derived from the Infinity Series but freer, less mathematically determined and more inclusive of both the avant garde and tonal ends of the spectrum, this is a big, powerful work in four (one subdivided) 'movements' of which the second is a grotesque 'scherzo' full of animal noises and the aural equivalent of obscene gestures. The work has gestural echoes of Sibelius 5 - which have to be deliberate - and Nielsen 5 (the direct conflict with and triumph over adversity); the piece was premiered in the company of these illustrious forebears. The order finally established in the finale's surging tides and erupting fanfares seems to be that imposed by the irresistible forces of nature.