Per Nørgård: Singe die Gärten

Martin Cotton, BBC Music Magazine
Onsdag, 1. december

Written between 1975 and 1992, these works presents many facets of Per Nørgård, but throughout runs a fascination with beauty of sound - none of the music is hard on the ear. Singe die Gärten, mein Herz, a setting of a typically ecstatic sonet by Rilke, expands slowly from a single note to the most exquisite harmonics, while Maya danser is simple and tonal: a children's song taken from Nørgård's opera-ballet Siddharta. Tonality is more subtly used in Winter Hymn, as the first verse, indeed hymn-like, is gradually blurred by added harmonies and contrapuntal lines, and expands to a glowing climax, before returning to the simplicity of the opening. The two sets of motets possess a more concentrated simplicity, with a generally homophonic texture which is easy to imagine in a liturgical setting. Most "difficult" are I Hear the Rain, a hypnotic chromatic choral interweaving over the sound of wind and percussive raindrop, and the Two Wölffli songs. Here it isn't so much the idiom as the intent, especially in the second, where a banal melody, like a revivalist hymn, is varied and repeated, gradually disappearing into the distance. The performances are totally committed, with clear diction in four languages, and exemplary intonation.