Through the Looking Glass
Transcription is an art easily taken for granted in post-war music, making the inventiveness of a group such as Alpha the more striking. Its latest disc focuses on works by four leading Danish composers, beginning in the jazzy minimalism of Poul Ruders’s Star Prelude and Love Fugue for piano (1990), with the Baroque stylisms of Per Nørgård’s Heyday’s Night (1981) more recalcitrant than in the original for recorder, cello and harpsichord. Two pieces by Hans Abrahamsen survey the extent of his composing, from the limpid detachment of the flute trio Flowersongs (1973) to the heady canonic syncopation of Canon 2a from his compendious work for chamber ensemble, Schnee (2008). Originally for solo accordion, Bent Sørensen’s Looking on Darkness (2000) sounds much darker and also more elusive in this incarnation, while Ruders’s effervescent Carnival (1980) – originally for flute and bongos – ought to be an ideal curtain-raiser for Alpha recitals. By the same token, Nørgård’s Isternia (1979) could well be a fine ending – the astringent sonorities of what was initially conceived for cimbalom having unexpected eloquence as recorder, saxophone and percussion ruminatively alternate.
Alpha’s playing is as secure in soloistic as in ensemble terms, and it has been caught to ideal effect in the warmly atmospheric acoustic of Hørsholm Church. Paul Hillier contributes a brief introductory note: those wanting more information on individual pieces should look online but the point of this release is surely its continuity as an overall recital – in which respect it is not to be found wanting.