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Gramophone (UK)

September 30, 2015

Richard Whitehouse

Gramophone (UK)
Award issue October 2015 on Nordic Sound and DFRC
These latest releases from OUR Recordings, the label Michala Petri founded a decade ago, reaffirm the breadth of the contemporary recorder repertoire. “ Nordic Sound came together as a memorial tribute to Danish Composer Axel Borup-Jørgensen, represented here by his suite for strings inspired by Swedish lake-land Sommen and typical in its obligue combining of abrasive energy with austere expectancy.
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen`s Music for 13 Strings is appreciably more integrated as an overall entity, its trenchant contrapuntal writing redolent of Danish music from the 1950s. That the other pieces feature recorder is about their only connection. As it title suggests, Bent Sørensen`s Whispering is a resourceful study in “sound overheard”, while Mogens Christensen`s Nordic Summer Scherzo has the descant instrument in a wealth of deft and capricious exchanges, most distinctive is Winter Echoes by Sunleif rasmussen, with recorder and strings as one in a somber evocation of exquisite poise.
The other disc focuses on Danish and Faroese recorder concertos, this latter country again represented by Rasmussen – his Territorial Songs inspired by competing bird colonies in a sequence of five movements whose expressive central “anti-cadenca” is framed by musical landscapes of mesmeric stillness and, in turn, by bell-permeated studies of surging impetus. Vastly different is Moonchilds Dream, Thomas Koppels`s concerto, whose four movements outline a trajectory of hopes envisaged though ultimately denied in music that ranges from overt brutality to radiant pathos. In between is Chacun Son Son, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen`s typically ingenious sequence of canonic exchanges in which various recorders are deployed according to the orchestral context – thus resulting in music that is ominous and sardonic by turns.
Both discs complement Petri`s tellingly understated virtuosity with committed playing from the Lapland Chamber Orchestra and Aalborg Symphony orchestras respectively. Spacious sound and copious notes further enhance recordings that are provocative and diverting in equal measure. Richard Whitehouse

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