Per Nørgård Symphonies a present to us all

Well, it was a heck of a birthday present. Dacapo released this complete set of Per Nørgård symphonies on the composer’s ninetieth birthday (July 13, 2022). And, really, it’s a present for us all.

Dacapo recorded the symphonies over an eight-year period from 2008 to 2016. Each one was with a world-class orchestra, and each an SACD release.

Through three orchestras and three conductors, the sound quality remains superb. And so do the performances. One might think that the Danish National Symphony Orchestra might be the strongest. After all, the orchestra members share the same nationality as Nørgård.

But I found the performances with the Vienna Philharmonic and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra equally compelling.

Nørgård was inspired by Nordic composers such Vagn Holbmoe, Carl Nielsen, and Jean Sibelius. And he strove to infuse his own works with that same Nordic character.

His “Infinity Series” compositional system proved incredibly malleable and expressive. The idea is that a motif is repeated over and over. Each time the motif grows, increasing in complexity throughout the work.

As these symphonies show, the series can be tonal, atonal, or even post-tonal. And textures can vary, from simple triads to complex clouds of sound.

Nørgård is also a precise orchestrator. Every note is there for a specific purpose, and instruments are combined for a specific effect. If you own any of the original releases, I encourage you to complete your collection.

If you’re new to Nørgård, then jump right in. You will be taken on eight sonic journeys that are absolutely unique. (and very, very, Nordic).

Per Nørgård: 8 Symphonies
Danish National Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Dausgaard, conductor
Vienna Philharmonic; Sakari Oramo, conductor
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra; John Storgårds, conductor
Dacapo CD BOX 8.204002

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