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Per Norgård (b.1932): Symphonies 1 & 8 / Sakari Oramo, Vienna PO

Album Summary

>Norgård, Per : Symphony no 1 ("Sinfonia austera"), Op. 13
>Norgård, Per : Symphony no 8
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

With this world premiere recording, the Vienna Philharmonic offers new perspectives on the most visionary voice in Nordic music and one of the greatest symphonists of our time, Danish composer Per Nørgård (b. 1932). Conducted on this occasion by Sakari Oramo, these performances of Nørgård's Symphonies 1 and 8 - two milestones composed with almost six decades between them - are the legendary orchestra's first recording of new Nordic music.

American Record Guide, November/December 2014
This is challenging music that may reward sympathetic listeners. I was a bit surprised to hear the conservative VPO involved in this project, but they play Sibelius well. Symphony 8 is a concert performance.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Wiener Konzerthaus (05/2013).


A Study in Contrasts
Sakari Oramo has paired Pers Nrgard'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, Norgard has charted his own path and created his own musical language that draws somewhat from both camps.

Nrgard 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 Nrgard is indeed one of the heirs of Sibelius' ascetic.

The work has an icy coolness to it, mostly due to Nrgard'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 Nrgard indeed delivers an austere work that nonetheless is quite moving in parts (particularly the slow movement).

Nrgard'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, Norgard 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.

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

Submitted on 12/12/14 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Per Norgård (Composer) (1932 - ) : Symphony no 1 ("Sinfonia austera"), Op. 13
  • Conductor: Sakari Oramo
  • Ensemble: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Wiener Konzerthaus (05/16/2013-05/17/2013)
  • Running Time: 30 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1953-1955

>Per Norgård (Composer) (1932 - ) : Symphony no 8
  • Conductor: Sakari Oramo
  • Notes: Wiener Konzerthaus (05/25/2013-05/26/2013)
  • Running Time: 11 min. 44 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 2010-2011
  • Studio/Live: Live