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Work Information

Per Nørgård : Tales from a hand - four suites


Work Notes Tales From a Hand - Four suites for guitar.
The four suites may be performed separately also.
Publisher
Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen
Category Solo Works (excluding keyboard)
Year Composed
2001
Duration 45 Minutes
Orchestration
gtr

Programme Note

Tales From a Hand
Four suites for guitar

The characteristic associations or different moods of the four types of playing cards - Spades, Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds - was the inspiration for the four guitar suites of “Tales From a Hand” (1. In the Mood of Spades. 2. The Queen of Hearts. 3. Clubs among Jokers. 4. Jack of Diamonds).

Suite I, In the Mood of Spades: The soloist encounters the challenge of expressing three states of being sinister, as the color of spades indisputably suggests:
"The King" is a severe King (with a touch of French Ouverture) - while
"The Queen" does not feel home in a traditionally "male" element with the austerity of spades - so there is a touch of "Elegy" over her and the music.
In the "Ace of Space" a synthesis is established. The Ace is the last and most exalted card in the series. But it also expresses innocence and a pure new beginning, a mixture that unite in a sort of “sensual hymn” (or perhaps a “sacred waltz”).

Suite II, The Queen of Hearts: Hearts symbolise love. These two movements illustrate two sides of the Queen of Hearts: the well-bred, polite, and noble is expressed in a slightly skewed sarabande, and the other side, the sensual and erotic side, in a more popular musical motif with four variations that under the surface (perhaps) is influenced by Nordic folk sounds. Before the second movement, the guitar must undergo an unusual and slow retuning from E to C sharp. This rarely used deep-sounding guitar tone gives the music a wholly special colour. The Queen of hearts in the solo version as well as a version for cello and guitar is dedicated to my wife Helle Rahbæk Nørgård.

Suite III, Clubs among Jokers: Of the two black card types (Clubs and Spades) Clubs is marked by three leaves, like a clover. So in each of the three Clubs-movements one mutual main theme dominates, but in one, two and three-part polyphony, respectively (each using a fugue technique), the last one doubling the symbol of 3 (3, 9, 27, 81- ) in different ways. The character is rather dark, but soft. Between the main movements, two quasi-improvised Joker-movements (try to) transform this dark mood into something more jocular.

Suite IV, Jack of Diamonds. Being the concluding suite of the four, ‘Jack of Diamonds’ represents a kind of diary of a trickster and seducer – in 8 musical scenes/movements, almost a parallel to the Rake’s progress.

Scene 1 “I am Jack” is a presentation: The music unfolds elegantly, with great self-confidence in a complicated and whippersnapper-like rhythmic world. (Jack Nicholson’s Joker in “Batman” could be used as illustration.)
Scene 2: “On the Track – I” (Promenade) is the seducer after his victim, con fuoco, like a beast of prey.
Scene 3: “Come out and play” – tempting, with the naivety of a children’s song – but the beast of prey lies just beneath the surface, ready to spring!
Scene 4: Thawing of the shy girl, poetic and seductive. He knows his stuff does Jack.
Scene 5: “On the Track - II”. Material from scene 2 is recognisable although it is slightly different. Preparations are being made for an empathetic chat with a sad lady of higher rank.
Scene 6: In this movement, “Sad eyed Lady, Empathy with the Dark Queen”, not only is the melody from the queen’s movement in Suite I (“In the Mood of Spades”) is quoted, but also the entire sensual and sombre basic mood of the music.
Scene 7: Material from the two “On the Track” movements is recognisable, but a mood of desperation is now clearly evident. On the track is now “off the track”, exhausted!
Scene 8: Peripeti, the reversal of circumstances, “The Right One” with the question, “Who are you? (Are you the right one, are you the real “you”?). Is this the story of a mature Jack – and has he at last found a more permanent partner? The music combines different moods like an apotheosis; contrasting words like con fatalismo (fatalistic), con gusto (with appetite), grave (heavy), giubilante (jubilant), brilliante (brilliant) , lontano (remote) are used as keywords for the musician in this concluding movement, lasting 6-7 minutes.

The integral version of “Tales From a Hand” (four suites for guitar solo) is dedicated to Erling Møldrup.

Per Nørgård 2008

extra, if the suite II is performed in the version for guitar and cello:

The Queen of Hearts (with the attendance of a cello) - for guitar solo with cello obligato. This duo version was composed for Erling Møldrup and Morten Zeuthen. The guitar part forms the second suite (The Queeen of Hearts) of “Tales from a Hand” - four suites for guitar solo, a work based on the symbols and "strengths" of the four suits: Spades, Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds.

Hearts symbolise love. These two movements illustrate two sides of the Queen of Hearts: the well-bred, polite, and noble is expressed in a slightly skewed Sarabande, and the other side, the sensual and erotic side, in a more popular musical motif with four variations that under the surface (perhaps) is influenced by Nordic folk sounds.

It is possible to perform the work with the "attendance" of a cello: the cello performs exclusively notes which are a part of the guitar solo (also with regard to register). After all, it is a question of “attendance, not a competition for attention.

The Queen of Hearts in the solo version as well as a version for cello and guitar is dedicated to my wife Helle Rahbæk Nørgård.


Per Nørgård 2008


































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