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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Per Norgard, Symphonies 2 & 6, Oslo Philharmonic, John Storgards

I am back with another volume in the Per Norgard series by John Storgards and the Oslo Philharmonic. This one covers Symphonies 2 & 6 (Da Capo 6.220645) and I am impressed once again with the performances. Last time I noticed the vertical qualities of the 5th and somewhat less so with the 4th. Here the 6th (1999) is about equally divided up between a temporal unfolding and singular events. The work has orchestrational depth, like an abstract painting with multiple layers and textures, it is a wealth of shades, colors and levels of grit. The work is subtitled "At the End of the Day" and you can feel the gradual shift into sunset and night if you use your imagination. It is a tour de force, certainly.

Symphony No. 2 (1970, rev. 1971) is a primary vehicle for Norgard's "infinity series," where high modernist concept meets a sort of naturalistic approach to change. It is one long processual unfolding and very effectively so. Indeed, a unison in the strings gradually gives way to a series of floating note cycles in the winds and then interacts with counter lines in the strings. Change feels like the evenemential patterns of clouds passing and morphing form on a moderately windy day. It is whatever you imagine it, of course, but it fascinates via its non-specific referentiality to itself and its ability to conjure images in the mind's eye.

Both of the symphonies are substantial, each "continents" in themselves, as the liners say.

Storgards and the Oslo musicians weave patterns that bring out the essence of the works. I am glad to have this recording and do hot hesitate to recommend it highly. Norgard is a symphonist for our times. The music speaks volumes.

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