Sørensen Sterbende Gärten;Echoing Garden
This disc is something special. Bent Sorensen (b. 1958) is almost frighteningly talented. A pupil of both Norholm and Norgard (and therefore a ‘grandpupil’ of Vagn Holmboe), his music is exquisite in design and sonority, febrile in invention and often visceral in impact. Images of decay and degeneration are consistent motifs in his oeuvre, though are not usually translated into technical methodologies (for instance, some species of Schnittkesque deconstruction). While advanced in spirit, there is a distinctive pseudo-tonal aspect to the means, occasioned mainly through the use of major and minor harmonies. There is always a quiet but acute edge to his music which can make listening to it a disconcerting fusion of the beguiling and the discomforting; but perseverance is rewarded.
These qualities are all exhibited in the two works recorded here, both major additions to the repertoire. Indeed, the violin concerto, Sterbende Garten (“Decaying Garden”; 1992-3), was awarded this year’s Nordic Council Music Prize. It is an astonishing piece of compositional virtuosity, performed here in like kind by the excellent Rebecca Hirsch and the Danish NRSO under Leif Segerstam. I could understand that the concerto might prove too uncomfortable for some tastes, but not The Echoing Garden (1990-92), a suite of six movements setting fragments of Shakespeare and Rilke in a larger extract from Belle de Seigneur, by the Swiss author Albert Cohen.
The Da Capo recording is beautifully clear and is accompanied by informative essays by Anders Beyer, John Warnaby and the composer. I fell in love with this disc at first hearing; strongly recommended.'