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Per Nørgård : Frühlenz Tänze

Work Notes The work,for choir and percussion ensemble (1980),is based on Nørgård´s so called infinity rhythms.
Text by Rilke in German (Frühlenz Tänze. Dansk version (Tidligt Forårs Danse)also available.
Wilhelm Hansen
Category Chorus and Orchestra/Ensemble
Year Composed
Duration 18 Minutes
SATB chor
Orchestration 4perc
Danish, German
Availability Sale from Musicroom or Music Dispatch  Explain this...

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Full Score(s) WH30946

Programme Note

TIDLIGT FORÅRS DANSE For mixed choir (SATB), percussion ensemble (minumum 6 players) and (ad lib.) dance.

The work integrates and combines a number of rhythms used in percussion works since the 1970s, Early Spring Dance (for choir and percussion). In these “infinity rhythms” (a simple two tone version of my different so called infinity series) every player uses only two sounds – a light and a dark sound – and stick to one or two of the many variations (by different accents and extracts of the basic patterns). The final result is a polyphonic layer of rhythms in different tempi, a complex canon of voices almost like a sounding world of fractals. The musicians play in principal the same ´basic rhythm´ (abba-baab-baab-abba – and so on), but sometimes exclude or accentuate some of them. In this way a rather complex music is created, using simple elements in combination, as known from African drumming or Balinese gamelan. As the infinity series has a fractal structure, the many rhythms can be combined in different tempi (½ tempo, ¼ tempo etc.) without creating a rhythmic chaos (as every 4th, 16th etc. note also creates the structure of a-b-b-a etc.).

The pieces belong to a series of percussion works since the 1970s composed for Danish percussionists like Gert Mortensen, Gert Sørensen and the Safri Duo (Whirls, Easy Beats, Zigzag, Frühlenz-Tänze, I Ching, A Light Hour, Nemo Dynamo, Echo Zones and more), all focusing on the polyphonic possibilities of these ´infinity rhythms´.

Tidligt Forårs Danse ( Early Spring Dances), with a duration around 25 minutes, consists of 3 sections:

A: for percussion. This section is the same as the percussion piece called “Whirls”, a kind of ´genesis´, building up the foundation of the (first 16 beats/tones of the) infinity series:
1 light tone (12 times repeated; a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a)
1 light tone + 1 dark tone (12 times repeated; a-b-a-b-a-b-a-b-a-b-a-b-a-b-a-b-a-b-a-b-a-b-a-b)
1 light tone + 1 dark tone + 1 dark tone (12 times repeated; a-b-b, a-b-b, a-b-b, a-b-b, a-b-b, a-b-b, etc.)
As you can imagine the contrasts of accents, metrum and rhythms will change all the time during this section (and its 15 sub-sections). On the way an instrument (for instance obo) may join with small motifs, and in the last section the choir will introduces a crescending “cluster” sound, leading to the complete and stabile 16th section (the basic pattern of the infinity series) and section B:

B: also a percussive section (called “The Sea”), but with a steady pulse, although the parts are divided in different, fast and slow, versions of the infinity series. Nothing is “added”, there is room for playing – and for accelerandi, even what sounds like ´an eternal accelerando´, ending in a collective accelerando on the first tone (light), that started section A (“Whirls”).

C: The choral song Jorden er som et barn (The Earth is like a Child – Spring song) is the central theme in this huge tutti section. The choral song was originally composed for the second movement of “Wie ein Kind” for mixed choir a cappella (1979-80). The dancing, wavelike motifs in alto, tenor and bass derive from a special rhythm nicknamed “pischop”, above which the sopranos sing their simple line (Sing to the earth..., the earth is singing).
After this presentation a more dramatic choral section follows, almost scat-singing on the sounds of “daaarm”, “dramm”, “drumm” and the like, with heavy counter rhythms in the percussion. After a climax the Spring Song returns and the percussionists joins the smooth and waving “pischop”-rhythms and adds other playful rhythms as well.

Per Nørgård (1982)

Note: The programme note may be used in a shortened version.


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