This is surely a Winterreise too far. The finest interpreters – including, among tenors, Peter Schreier, Ian Bostridge and Christoph Prégardien – make the wanderer’s inner and outer journey through the snowbound landscape a cathartic experience. Hans Jörg Mammel, whose career has been largely in early music, musters a generalised sensitivity but never grips or haunts the imagination.
This Finlandia disc, which sadly never got a US release and is hard to find there, surveys Per Nørgård's works for strings across a broad span of the Danish composer's output, from the 1950s to the 1990s. All of these express the perennial concerns of Nørgård's work: ambiguity, "infererence" and the development of the tonal tradition. Juha Kangas leads the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra.
In one of my earlier reviews of recordings of Nørgård’s music, I remarked that his musical and stylistic progress is far from a straight line. This composer is used to surprising even his staunchest admirers with unexpected twists and turns. This is certainly valid when considering his string quartets - ten at the time of writing. It may be worth reminding ourselves that his first essays in the genre are available on Kontrapunkt 32015 played by the Kontra Quartet. It’s a disc still worth looking out for.
Denmark’s four leading composers – Poul Ruders, Per Nørgård, Bent Sørensen and Hans Abrahamsen - have allowed the experimental trio Alpha to take their music behind the looking glass and let their works re-emerge in the trio’s very own sound world. Played and recorded entirely by heart, Alpha’s close encounter with the musical essences of seven different works seems to reveal the form and richness of each composer’s imagination in a new magical reflection.