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Per Nørgård : Tributes - Album for strings


Publisher Wilhelm Hansen
Category
Orchestra
Sub-Category String Orchestra
Year Composed
1995
Duration 16 Minutes
Orchestration
str
Availability Hire  Explain this...
Discography
Here...

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Full Score(s) WH31593

Programme Note

TRIBUTES - ALBUM FOR STRINGS (1994-95)

I: FOUR OBSERVATIONS – FROM AN INFINTE RAPPORT – hommage a Bartok (1995)
II: OUT OF THIS WORLD – hommage a Lutoslawski (1994)
III: VOYAGE INTO THE BROKEN SCREEN - hommage a Sibelius (1995)

Please notice that Per Nørgård wrote 2 programme notes for the work.You may use what might be useful for the concert.

SHORT VERSION:
“TRIBUTES – album for strings” (1994-95) includes three hommages, which might also be performed separately.
The shared point of departure was the hommage to three major composers of the 20th century – Bartok, Lutoslawski and Sibelius.

In FOUR OBSERVATIONS the hommage is to Bartok (on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his death 1995).

Hungarian Radio asked me to write a piece in his honor, but apart from the very last unison string figure , which is - I think - very Bartokian, the work in no way intends to evoke, even less to imitate, the musical style of the great Hungarian master. This would be an act of impudence against a composer who was such an exceptionally integrated personality, and who has himself shown (in 'Mikrokosmos') the worthy way to pay a personal tribute to highly respected colleagues:

In 'Hommage á J.S.B.' and 'Hommage à R. Sch.' Bela Bartok composes in his own manner but lets the music reflect some qualities of the said composers, as perceived in Bartok's mind. In a similar way my 'Observations from an infinite Rapport' reflects as well the timeless proportions of the 'golden section' - which seem to have inspired Bartok so much, - in his great respect for perceptive, structural patterns.

"OUT OF THIS WORLD" was composed at the request of a group of Lutoslawski's friends, as a symbol of parting to a great composer and a noble man. The title quotes a poem by Yunus Emre, the Turkish 14th century poet. The opening line of the poem 'Biz dünyadan' reads as follows in English translation: 'We are on the way out of this world, we send our greetings to those left behind...'

"VOYAGE INTO THE BROKEN SCREEN" is a hommage to Sibelius. The title refers to my 27 years older work, in which the title-ending 'into the golden Screen' suggests a blank surface.
Here the 'broken screen' refers to the multilayered 'broken' harmonic partials, quasi-chaotic in their rhythmic multiplicity of golden proportions. In Sibelius' music I've always admired the unique sense of the 'natural sound', the harmonic partials among others.

This concluding movement of my "Book for Strings" was composed as a dedication to Juha Kangas, the leader of the Easter Bothnic Chamber Orchestra - on the occasion of his 50th birthday in November 1995.

The total duration of "Tributes, Album for Strings": appr. 18 min.
(5 min. – 7 min. – 5 min.)

Per Nørgård

----

LONGER VERSION:
"TRIBUTES – album for strings” (1994-95) includes three hommages, which might also be performed separately.

The shared point of departure was the hommage to three major composers of the 20th century – Bartok, Lutoslawski and Sibelius.

My “Tributes” has a somewhat “cool” attitude, motivated by the reasons for their creation.
But how can a composer make a real tribute to a colleague without falling in the pit of ´pale pastiche production´?

My answer to the question was expressed in the comment to the first tribute “Four observations – from an infinite rapport” – to Bela Bartok – a commission from the Hungarian radio to commemorate the 5oth year of his death: the way that Bartok himself musically showed his affinity to Schumann and Bach (in “Microcosmos”: Hommage a R. Sch., Hommage á J.S.B.) was how I tried to make mine in my tribute to him. Instead of imitating, I focused on a special, characteristic feature of his music, which I found to be related to mine: his frequent concentration on canonical aspects, as for example in “Music for string instruments, celesta and percussion”. Recognizing this drive in myself, I built up all four ´Observations´ on one simple idea: a swift, descending passage, accelerating simultaneously with its stepwise distribution to the strings (from the violins to the double basses). At the same time as this relay is completed, each instrumental group repeats its own isolated bit of the passage.

In this way a paradoxical ´as well as´ effect is created combining the linear (falling, acceleration) motif as one unit with a repeated figuration in each string group. This results in a combination of the slow portion of the motif in the violins, the faster one in the violas and , consequently, the fastest figurations in the cellis and the basses. This ´Janus face´of each group (being self-contained and part of a chain) marks the development of the first three of the Observations: in one moment the linear, forward movement is in focus, in the next one the static figuration is in the foreground, the resulting music being an interplay of the two tendencies. The fourth Observation starts in a strongly contrasting mood, with a forceful, hammering, unison line at a rapid speed. A short epilogue echoes the descending acceleration from the former Observations – until, finally, a decisive bass scale fragment abruptly (and , at last, in indisputable Bartok manner) concludes the piece.

"Out of this world". The death of Lutoslawski promted the organization of the Warsaw Autumn 1995 to ask composers all over the world to compose works of commemoration. My contribution was, because of the nature of the situation, much more of an elegy than in the case of my Bartok tribute “Four observations – from an infinite rapport”. Based on a recent elegy for choir, I started from a line from Yunus Emre ( a great 13th-century Turkish poet): “We are on our way out of this world. Our greetings to the ones we leave behind.” As my point of connection to Lutoslawski, I choose, in line with my comment to the Bartok tribute, his continuous will to ´rejuvenate´ the musical language, so stimulating to the development. So, by focusing on the seventh harmonic (on the G-string), I composed a work with a kind of ´depressed mood´ (interrupted by echoes of dance-like, whirling village music) where this natural, low F (created by overtones) interferes with the “normal” (well-tempered) F, an effect producing a mixed tonal feeling of an emotionally strangled character.

The title of my hommage a Sibelius – “Voyage into the Broken Screen” – plays on my work from 1968 with an almost identical title (“Voyage into the Golden Screen”) - ´broken´ replacing the original ´golden´. In the work I use rhythmical patterns related to the “Golden Section”, approximating values such as 3:5:8:13.. etc. (the Fibonacci sequence, named after a Renaissance mathematician). In this way, a rich an ´broken´ sound world is produced, with a high intensity and a sonority approaching an almost chaotic abundance. The many layers of the strings, though, are concentrated by the two celli, thus unifying the different accentuations into just one line, ´guiding´ the perception with a certain melodic contour. At the climax, the music is interrupted – only a pale minor chord in the celli remains.

This concluding movement of my "Book for Strings" was composed as a dedication to Juha Kangas, the leader of the Easter Bothnic Chamber Orchestra - on the occasion of his 50th birthday in November 1995.
The total duration of Tributes, Album for Strings: appr. 18 min.
(5 min. – 7 min. – 5 min.)

Per Nørgård (1999)


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