Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Else Marie PADE (b.1924)
Symphonie Magnétophonique (1958) (19.27)
The Little Mermaid (1958) (42.54)
Face It (Hitler is not dead) (1970) (7.58)
Else Marie Pade, tape recorders and synthesisers
Notes in English, German, and Danish
Created in the studios of Danish Radio and remixed at DIEM, Arhus, Denmark, 2002
DACAPO 8.224233 [70.20]


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Else Marie Pade became a student at the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music in 1946 studying piano. She completed her studies but she felt the need to explore an ‘internal universe of sound’ which she had been hearing internally since childhood. She began taking private composition lessons with Vagn Holmboe, Jan Jaegaard and Leif Kayser. When she discovered Musique Concrète in 1952 during a Danish Radio broadcast about Pierre Schaeffer she immediately set off to Paris to visit the composer. Danish engineer Holger Lauridsen and Werner Meyer-Eppler in Cologne, Germany, helped her to find her own style using electronically generated sounds merged with natural sounds. Established Danish composer Knudage Riisager attacked her works in print, and she felt there was a dimension of gender intolerance in the generally negative reaction her works aroused. Nevertheless she continued to compose until the mid-1960s when her increasing responsibilities as producer required all her resources.

The Symphonie Magnétophonique is at once gripping, exciting, and the unfolding of it is a constant delight. Each moment is informed by a skilled, sophisticated musical instinct, and it deserves to be honoured, along with Pierre Henry’s Voile d’Orphée, Edgard Varèse’s Poème Electronique, and David Talcott’s Trilogy as a great classic of the Musique Concrète repertoire.

Unfortunately, the other pieces on this disk lose their impact for a non-Danish speaker. I found the 43 minute recitation of "The Little Mermaid" in Danish more than I could take, however ingenious the sonic background might be. Face It is a cute idea for a one minute piece, but after you’ve heard ‘Hitler Is not Dead’ repeated in Danish 200 times (more or less) accompanied by the steady beat of a drum, eight minutes feels like 80. But, no matter, one masterpiece per CD is enough of a bargain.

Translating Musique Concrète into German as konkrete Musik may be OK, but "Concrete Music" sounds perfectly silly in English, as do most other attempts at a translation. Apparently the correct and agreed-upon English term is ‘Musique Concrète’, not by any means the only case where French words have entered into English without change. Also the program notes suggest that Musique Concrète began in the 1950s on the tape recorder with Pierre Schaeffer, but in fact several people were doing it decades previously using disk recorders. Electronic musical instruments date from the 1920s. By 1926 microphones had reached a high state of development, and the idea of recording natural sounds must have occurred to many at the time.

Paul Shoemaker

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