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ClassicsOnline Home » NORDGREN, P.H.: Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8 / Summer Music (Transient Moods) (Turku Philharmonic, Kangas)
Where the north wind blows
Pehr Henrik Nordgren’s final two symphonies walk bleak yet entrancing pathways that wind through a foreboding landscape under skies heavy with storm clouds. This is seriously dark music which at times slides into what feels like folksy drunkenness around desolate campfires, yet even within this giddiness the vision remains bleak, its mud-spattered footfalls driven on by a strange ambition.
All in all, Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8 are beautifully dark and mesmerizing. Summer Music offers a blush of pale colour and perhaps the distant fragrance of some forgotten dream. Great!more....
Two highly compelling late C20 pieces
Sibelius meets Mahler and Lutoslawski and they go to Finnish folk-fiddling festival. After a five-minute introduction of menacing rhythms and quiet, though unremitting, dissonance, Nordgren’s 7th Symphony begins its journey. The rest of its 25-minute course is marked by a series of episodes where folk-like material alternates with menacing marches and plaintive laments. The orchestra is huge and the percussion section is very active. There is a plangent cor anglais, a harp being a kantele, and saxophones. The total effect is enigmatic, as is the final appearance of the opening material without so much of the dissonance: Is the piece a series of variations? What is the continuity or program? For what it’s worth my answer is ‘yes’, and ‘it’s a night to dawn piece’.
Summer Music is a short piece from earlier in Nordgren’s career. It seems to be a portrait of a summer’s day from dawn to dusk. There is much revelry in the middle, and I detect claps of thunder and some rain at the end of this section, though not as much as in Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. At the end there are Romantic serenades in the dusk, with insects!
The 8th Symphony is more difficult to understand, the two outer movements are Minore and Maggiore, respectively, and are separated by a brief Intermezzo scored mainly for percussion. The first movement is a series of episodes, mainly stressed and march-like, with a prominent ‘tick-tock’ motif, perhaps symbolising time passing. The final movement is similar and not much less stressed, though the ‘tick-tock’ motif has become modified and is no longer so insistent.
These are two highly compelling late C20 pieces and should reward listeners.more....
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