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

  • jazz adds march 2, 2015

    helen tzatzimakis.   soulfully.  cobalt music.   When sunny gets blue, she/he might turn to this collection of cabaret/torch songs–mostly needing subtitles–from Greek vocalist helen tzatzimakis (sounds like ja-ji-makis).  the award-winning singer cooks her playlist from the mighty of the melancholy:  jacques brel, billie holiday, violetta parra, mikis theodorakis, and marianne faithful.  accompanied by manos […]

  • New Blues News – 3/3/2015

    New Blues News – 3/3/2015 New Blues Adds: Brad Absher & Swamp Royale – Lucky Dog (Montrose): Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Absher presents a potpourri of soul that reflects his Big Easy/Lake Charles, LA influences. Half of the tunes are originals and fall into the slow or medium paced soul reminiscent of Dan Penn. The songs he covers […]

  • Remembering Clark Terry: A Celebration of the Late Jazz Trumpeter

    Ann Porotti sat down with Charlottesville dance educator Anne Megibow, Clark Terry’s goddaughter, on the February 25th edition of All That Jazz to celebrate the life and music of Clark Terry, who passed away on Saturday, February 21st at the age of 94. Clark Terry was described in a New York Times obituary as, “one of […]

  • Feb 28 Gather Round: Liz Carroll & John Doyle at The Prism (2001)

    Gather ‘Round each Saturday night from 8-9 for WTJU Folk‘s concert series; both archived and live. There will be shows from The Prism Coffeehouse and VA Folklife archives mixed in with some from our announcers’ own libraries. And you never know when a live concert might pop up!  This week’s program comes from The Prism […]

  • WTJU Presents Solas at The Jefferson Theater, Feb 26

    WTJU is delighted to present Solas in concert at The Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville on Thursday, February 26.  Opening for them will be members of the Blue Ridge Irish Music School. Before Solas heads over to The Jefferson Theater for sound check, this internationally renowned band will first stop by the WTJU studios for a […]

  • On With The Show now weekly .. and a new Thursday morning host

    On With The Show, our biweekly program devoted to musical theater, has been such a success with listeners that it will now be heard every Friday evening 6-8 pm, here on WTJU. Thom Pease is your Master of Ceremonies, ably assisted by Charles Peale and Brad Sayler.  We hope you’ll tune in, get your feet […]