Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

On This Planet
Flaming Home
I'll Buy You Chocolate
In The Valley
Whispering Sleep
Too Much Sand
Don't Be Afraid
Prelude To The Missing Sea
Lucid King (Lucid King; Voice and Choir; Stones and Voices; Two Mobiles; untitled; Happy Fish)
Forget My Face

Thomas Sandberg, voice
Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen/Morten Ryelund Sorensen
Recorded at Sweet Silence Studio, 28th - 30th May 2002.
DACAPO 8.224221 [57.04]


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Anders Nordentoft is a contemporary Danish composer who, in making On This Planet, has provided the Naxos affiliated label dacapo with the opportunity to cross-over into the areas of improv and avant-rock. I thoroughly enjoyed this disc but have to admit that it is very different to almost all the music normally reviewed on this website. The only nominally "classical" music I can think of which bears any resemblance to Nordentoft's muse (at least on the evidence of, particularly, the vocal pieces included here) is Tom Waits singing Bryars' Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet. Beyond that I am reminded mainly of mavericks from rock's experimental wing such as Blixa Bargeld's extraordinary Einstürzende Neubauten, Trout Mask Replica era Captain Beefheart and Waits himself, circa Swordfishtrombones, but also of the more Dadaist practitioners of improv/jazz. Certainly Thomas Sandberg's alternately gruff and resigned vocals locate the music in those contexts even more than the jazz-related compositions of the aforementioned Bryars and, say, Mark Anthony Turnage.

The first half of the disc, up to and including Too Much Sand, is angular, spiky and often dissonant, while still existing within a fairly disciplined overall structure. Even the orchestrated instrumentals here fit the Neubauten/Waits/Beefheart rubric but Don't Be Afraid sees a shift towards a more reflective approach, much characterised by the use of harmonium played by the composer himself. Its sad, gospel-like hymnic feeling is followed by the relatively abrasive Wheel but even here Sandberg's manic wailings are accompanied by tuneful sampled(?) "chimes". The Nordentoft of Don't Be Afraid re-emerges on the first section of the CD's centrepiece Lucid King, now evoking Nick Cave, Peter Hamill and even the Peter Gabriel of Family Snapshot or Here Comes The Flood. In spite of plenty of exotic sounds in the background, this is, when all is said and done, a beautiful but disturbed and deeply affecting ballad. It flows straight into the very similar Voice and Choir but Stones and Voices is something else again with its half whispered cut-up quotations from poetry by Rimbaud (Les Illuminations) and Derek Walcott (Earth) and its electroacoustic backdrop. After the instrumental quietisms of Two Mobiles and an untitled piece, the "suite" concludes with the surreal but lovely Happy Fish for piano and vocal. Last but certainly not least comes Forget My Face, another short but gorgeous piece of harmonium-driven melancholy Scandinavian hymnal.

I really didn't know what to expect when first listening to this disc. I found the garish cover art rather off-putting but every listen just makes me like the music more and more. Both the vocals and lyrics (the latter often strangely and highly topical, e.g. Too Much Sand) may be something of an acquired taste and, as I hope I have made clear, this is possibly the least conventionally "classical" disc I have ever reviewed for Musicweb but I love it. If you care for any of the many points of reference I have tried to include then you could do far worse than sample it yourself, you may reach the same conclusion as I did. I will certainly be on the lookout for more music from this composer. Highly recommended.

Neil Horner

See also review by Paul Shoemaker

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