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Pelle GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN (b.1932)
Organ Music

Mirror III (1974) [13.39]
1. I [5.21]
2. II [3.07]
3. III [3.48]
4. IV [1.22]
Still. Leben (1999) [8.15]
5. Still [5.28]
6. Leben [2.47]
Countermove I-III (1999) [15.57]
7. I [6.15]
8. II [4.54]
9. III [4.48]
In triplum I-III (1999) [3.53]
10. I [1.22]
11. II [1.07]
12. III [1.24]
13. Der er så favrt I Jelling at hvile (2000) [7.16]
14. Arkaisk procession (2002) [2.33]
15. Spejlkabinet (2002) [7.34]
Eva Feldbæk (organ)
Christian Tilma (registration)
Christian Tilma (assistant in Mirror III)
Karina Agerbo, Niels Danielsen, Garten Popp and Christina Tilma (assistants in Cabinet of Mirrors)
Recorded in Vestkirchen, Ballerup, Denmark 7-8 June and 22-23 September 2002
DACAPO 8.224254 [59.55]
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s music is highly esteemed in Denmark. There is also nowadays a growing interest abroad. He has described his work as ‘a kind of pot-luck music which of course reflects both his European and Danish identity, but also leaves room for American impulses’. He also has interest in visual arts that is reflected directly in his works.

His early influences stretching back to the 1950s were the Danish post-Nielsen Neoclassicism, Bartók and Stravinsky. By 1960 his work turned up at the ISCM festival in Cologne. There it was perceived as being open ‘to overwhelming impressions from the central European avant-garde, above all the leading figures of serialism, Boulez and Stockhausen - and not least to Ligeti’s new views of sonority’. He was influenced by the American visual artist Robert Rauschenberg and he attempted ‘to create object-like sounds or elements and let them meet one another’.

Gudmundsen-Holmgreen was one of the main figures of the ‘New Simplicity’ movement in the mid-sixties with concretism and stylistic pluralism as some of the characteristic elements.

During the 1970s he made use of the so-called ‘filter’, which is ‘a certain selection of notes in the form of a self-reflecting tonal grid which leads to a symmetrical structure, including frequent mirrorings’.

His organ music falls into three periods. Mirror III from 1974, Octapus from 1987 and new works from 1999 onwards. In all these works he chooses ‘with great assurance which features of the organ he wants to single out to create his musical universe. The music is thus inextricably linked with the nature of the instrument’. In general his music combines the grotesque, the comic and the abstract together with an improvisatory feeling.

In Mirror III the melodies and harmonies ‘are symmetrical around a middle note, and rhythms are mirrored around a central axis’. Still/Leben, Countermove and In triplum make a series of eight pieces very different from each other combining polyrhythm, polychromaticism, diatonics and melody. Der er så favrt I Jelling at hvile (Fair it is to rest in Jelling) was written for ‘the transfer of the bones of King Gorm the Old to Jelling church. The music is based on old familiar Danish material. Arkaisk Procession combines four different melodies at the same time whereas the Spejlkabinet uses an ‘extra dimension to the music by means of the glissando of the reed stops, and perhaps also the very idea of music that is played both on the organ and inside the organ’. This is a very abstract but well formed piece.

It is quite hard to gain a fair account of this music without listening to it many times. Actually the more you listen to it, the more you feel familiar with all these effects that the organ can produce. For the organ listener this is not music that is likely to instantly attract. Ultimately however it is the originality that commands attention.

Eva Feldbæk and her assistants perform superbly and capture extremely well the original spirit of the music.

Christina Antoniadou



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