Per Nørgard Symphonies Nordic Masterpieces

Sakari Oramo has paired Per Nørgård’s first symphony (1953) and his most recent symphony (2011) together, creating an interesting study in contrasts. To my ears, there’s a certain Nordic quality to both works. Although the 8th is more dissonant and not as tonal in structure, neither work falls neatly into the post-romantic or atonal categories. Like Sibelius, Nørgård has charted his own path and created his own musical language that draws somewhat from both camps.

Nørgård greatly admired Sibelius. He corresponded with the older composer, shared some scores with him, and dedicated his first quintet to Sibelius (with permission). The Symphony No. 1 suggests that Nørgård is indeed one of the heirs of Sibelius’ ascetic.

The work has an icy coolness to it, mostly due to Nørgård ‘s orchestration. His string writing, particularly, seems to favor the treble, giving it somewhat of an edge. The subtitle, “Sinfonia Austera,” puts the listener on notice, and Nørgård indeed delivers an austere work that nonetheless is quite moving in parts (particularly the slow movement).

Nørgård’s 8th Symphony is the work of a mature composer thoroughly in command of his materials. Like the first, it doesn’t necessarily fit into the current compositional schools. Instead, Nørgård constructs his own sonic world that sounds contemporary without being trendy. The glittering chromaticism and unusual instrumentation make it a work both in and out of its time. If you purchase the SACD of this release, be sure to play it through an SACD player — the greater detail I heard made a significant difference in the impact this symphony had on me.

Per Nørgård is well-regarded throughout Scandinavia. Perhaps this recording will help spread his reputation even further.

Per Nørgård: Symphony No. 1, Op. 13 “Sinfonia Austera”; Symphony No. 8
Vienna Phiharmonic Orchestra; Sakari Oramo, conductor
Dacapo SACD

More Recent Posts

  • New Blues News – 8/28/2016

    New Blues News – 8/28/2016 Dan Bubien – Grinding The Gears (Self-produced): Veteran Pennsylvania singer / guitarist / songwriter who has been performing for 20 years. This disc is the second under his own name. Bubien has a full voice which is especially effective on the tougher or more elemental blues songs, like “Palest Rider” […]

  • Hound Dog Hill on Lambeth Live, Sep 2

    Hound Dog Hill out of Staunton VA will put on the September 2 edition of Lambeth Live (heard each Friday night from 8-9 on WTJU), and you are invited to be part of the studio audience for this FREE concert broadcast! 350 Emmet St N, Charlottesville on ye olde GPS will get you to the […]

  • Ferdinand Ries – Cello Sonatas in the Rough

    Ferdinand Ries was an accomplished pianist and composer who came to Vienna to study with Beethoven. The two became quite close (in addition to being his student, Ries also served as Beethoven’s copyist and personal assistant). And one can hear that closeness in most of Ries’ compositions. The statement of the themes, the organization and […]

  • Final City Market Broadcast of 2016, Aug 27

    Atlantic Weekly closes out its 2016 season at Charlottesville City Market this Saturday morning, August 27, from 8 til noon.  Stop by and say hello.  Oh, and don’t forget WTJU kicks off the Levitt Amp Charlottesville Music Series later in the day just down the road at IX Art Park! (details)  Did we mention it […]

  • Gina Sobel on Something New, Aug 24

    Gina Sobel will stop by WTJU this Wednesday afternoon, August 24, around 4:30 (edt) to share a few tracks off her new album, World’s Getting Loud.  She will be celebrating its release this Friday night at Twisted Tea Branch Bazaar in Charlottesville (details).

  • Hoot and Holler on Sunset Road, Aug 26

    Hoot and Holler, aka Amy Alvey and Mark Kilianski, returns to the WTJU studios this Friday afternoon, August 26, around 5 (edt) for a visit to Sunset Road.  Later that night you can catch them at the Blue Moon Diner (details).