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Per Nørgård : For a Change - Percussion Concerto no.1


Publisher Wilhelm Hansen
Category
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed 1982
Duration
26 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s) Percussion
Orchestration
2.2.2.2/4.3.3.0/str
Availability Hire  Explain this...
Discography
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Full Score(s) KP00706

Programme Note

FOR A CHANGE for percussion solo and orchestra (1983)

Programme note - short version:
The title ´For a Change´ refers to the Chinese ´Book of Changes´(I Ching), which has been consulted in situations of choice for millennia. In the I Ching, 64 states of being determine the full cycle of the phases of life. From these I selected four, the sequence of which progresses from a situation from which there is apparently no solution, to a (temporary) relief.
In the first movement ´Thunder repeated, the Image of Shock´, a vicious circle of claustrophobic, closed circuits is represented by the tom-tom part. This is followed by tam-tams and wood sounds, but returns full-circle to the tom-toms.
The second movement ´The taming Power of the small´has its origins in the violence of the first movement, but this time lets it resolve in a long glide upwards which stars with voice sounds ´borrowed´from the Beatles´´Revolution no 9´ (White Album) which are then transmitted to the other instruments.
The third movement is ´The Gentle, The Penetrating´in which lyrical poetry dominates with gentle bell-like sounds and delicate tunes.
Finally the sovereign, many-layered world of rhythm triumphs in the fourth movement: ´Towards Completion. Fire over Water´, the main movement of the work.
For a Change was premiered on the 27th February 1983 by the Sealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tamás Vetö. Soloist was Gert Mortensen, whom the work is dedicated.
Per Nørgård (1983)

Programme note - longer version:
The title ´For a Change´ refers to the Chinese ´Book of Changes´(I Ching), which has been consulted in situations of choice for millennia. In the I Ching, 64 states of being determine the full cycle of the phases of life. From these I selected four, the sequence of which progresses from a situation from which there is apparently no solution, to a (temporary) relief.
In the first movement ´Thunder repeated, the Image of Shock´, a vicious circle of claustrophobic, closed circuits is represented by the tom-tom part. This is followed by tam-tams and wood sounds, but returns full-circle to the tom-toms.
The second movement ´The taming Power of the small´has its origins in the violence of the first movement, but this time lets it resolve in a long glide upwards which stars with voice sounds ´borrowed´ from the Beatles´´Revolution no 9´ ´(White Album) which are then transmitted to the other instruments.
The third movement is ´The Gentle, The Penetrating´in which lyrical poetry dominates with gentle bell-like sounds and delicate tunes.
Finally the sovereign, many-layered world of rhythm triumphs in the fourth movement: “Towards Completion. Fire over Water”, the main movement of the work.
For a Change´was premiered on the 27th February 1983, by the Sealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tamás Vetö. Soloist was Gert Mortensen, whom the work is dedicated.

There is a close relationship between my work for solo percussion “I Ching” (1982) and the percussion concerto “For a Change” (1983); the solo part of the concerto is actually identical to “I Ching” (apart from the second movement, in which I have orchestrated the percussion part). This symbiotic treatment evolved in the following manner: the fast outer movements of “I Ching” possess a density of speed, quite uncharacteristic of other works by me. The intentional result was to “blur” or “muddy” the melodic patterns, which, if played differently (as they are throughout the work) are clearly perceptible. These patterns are simultaneously present in a variety of proportions and tempi in “I Ching”, and it was here that I found the material for the orchestral part of “For a Change”. In the fourth movement for instance you will hear, through the dense “clouds” of fast notes from the soloist, the orchestra playing identical patters, but in a slower motion, creating the same, perceptible melodies, but in other, slower wavelengths so to speak – like fractals. Sill, to obtain balance, I first had to establish a “fair” relationship between the soloist and the orchestra. It would not be “fair” to demand from the orchestra what I demand of the soloist, considering the amount of time for each party to devote to rehearsing the music.
This is illustrated in the first movement (“The Image of Shock”), in which the complexity and persistence of the solo part constantly “tilts” the orchestra and forces each orchestral player to improvisational imitations.
This radical Yang/Yin-relationship is somewhat softened by the pianissimo orchestration of the second movement (“The Taming Power of the Small”).
A sort of equilibrium is reached in the third movement (“The Gentle, The Penetrating”), in which the soloist still has a leading role, though – playing the Kalimba (or the Sansa, the African metal tongue instrument), as well as other frail timbres. At last, in the fourth movement, an equality is established; the soloist and the orchestra play in different, but harmonic tempo-spheres - “Towards Completion”: Fire over Water”. Or: For a Change…
Per Nørgård (1995)



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