GYÖRGY LIGETI (b.
PER NØRGÅRD (b. 1932)
Helle Nacht: Violin Concerto. Sonata, 'The Secret
Christina Åstrand (violin);
Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Thomas
Chandos CHAN9830 [DDD]
This is a fascinating, thought-provoking coupling of two major late twentieth
century additions to the violin repertoire. Those who possess Boulez' recording
of Ligeti's Concertos (DG 439 808-2, with Saschko Gavriloff, who premiered
the work, as violin soloist) may feel little need to obtain this new account.
But there is a creative, symbiotic tension between Ligeti and Nørgard,
which makes a complete play-through of this disc a compelling and rewarding
Ligeti's Violin Concerto presents a fascinating, compulsive listening experience
He effortlessly marries the long, Romantically expressive melody of the second
movement with the post-Expressionist angst of the fifth and the cascading
agility of the 'Intermezzo'. The use of ocarinas (they sound a little like
recorders being over-blown by school children) in a chorale-like passage
immediately conjures up the mutilated ghost of Berg in his Violin Concerto.
Åstrand is fully up to all challenges (including the difficult cadenza).
Nørgård's evocative Concerto (1986/7) moves from the chamber
music textures of its opening (heightened by the use of a piano) to later
densely explosive textures. He exploits the technique of 'beating' (several
instruments playing the same note but with slightly different tunings) to
expressive effect, using the resolution of the beating as a means of articulating
arrival points. Åstrand again stands up to the considerable demands
placed upon her (again, in the cadenza she is a marvel). The Sonata, 'The
Secret Melody' was originally composed in 1992 for viola as part of 'Libro
per Nobuko', and this version for solo violin is sanctioned by the composer.
This Sonata is no mere filler, but a work of substance that sustains the
interest over its fifteen minute span. Åstrand is sweet-toned and committed