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Peter BRUUN (b. 1968)
Breve til havet (Letters to the Ocean) (2006) [17:11]
NÅr Natten Falder (When Night Falls) [3:43]
Drukne t Hav i et Andet (Drown One Ocean in Another) [7:11]
Bede Det Lgge sig (Calm Down) [3:57]
Himmel-Havn (Heaven-Haven) [2:19]
En klokke af slv, der kimer alt levende sammen (A silver bell that chimes all living things together) (2000-2001) [22:27]
Gennem din sang (Through your song) [5:32]
Min hjemlse klarinet (My homeless clarinet) [1:46]
Et klaver af slv, der kimer alt levende sammen (A silver piano that chimes all living things together) [5:20]
De sorgfulde guitarer (The mournful guitars) [2:46]
Nu letter en kontrabas (Now a double-bass takes off) [1:17]
Nu regner det pÅ en sang (Now it is raining on a song) [5:43]
Spejlblger (Waves of Reflection) (2000): Introduction [3:05]; Reflection [5:06]; Interlude [2:00]; Wave [5:12]
Frode Andersen (accordion)
Helene Gjerris (mezzo)
Esbjerg Ensemble/Petter Sundkvist
rec. 21-24 June 2010, Musikhuset Esbjerg, Denmark. DDD. Sung texts provided (Danish/English)
DACAPO 8.226553 [55:02]

Experience Classicsonline

The Danish label Dacapo have been a source of pleasure and surprise in recent years, notably for their recordings of Per Nrgards Der gttliche Tivoli and A Light Hour, not to mention Rued Langgaards Music of the Spheres; all are works of refreshing individuality, superbly played and recorded. Peter Bruun is new to me, but as Jakob Wivel points out in his proselytizing notes hes highly eclectic in his inspiration and output. That may set alarm bells ringing in some quarters, but on first acquaintance I was persuaded theres a flair and focus to Bruuns writing thats always engaging. The Esbjerg Ensemble must take some credit for this, as they play with uncommon verve throughout.

Letters to the Ocean, first heard as a quintet based on a poem by Ursula Andkjr Olsen, is played here in the version for large ensemble. In four named sections that might tempt one to all sorts of aquatic metaphors, When Night Falls is essentially an exercise in persistent and strangely insidious rhythmic ideas. Bruuns writing has a cool, crystalline quality that never lacerates, and one simply has to marvel at the level of detail and colour in the rather more lyrical Drown One Ocean in Another. Even in its occasional vehemence this music is most natural recorded; this ensures that the essential warmth and clarity of this band is faithfully caught, the fragmented collisions at the close of this movement remarkably tactile. And as their titles suggest, Calm Down and Heaven-Haven reveal a quieter, more ruminative side to Bruuns musical persona.

One cant fail to be impressed by the pellucid quality of both the music and the music-making, the simplicity of utterance concealing a keen ear for texture and rhythmic subtlety. Thats certainly true of A silver bell that chimes all living things together, set to a poem by Rolf Gejsted; its mixed from much the same palette as before, Through your song introducing the singing and sprechgesang of mezzo Helene Gjerris and, occasionally, a new and atavistic bass. Its a strange juxtaposition, but it all hangs together surprisingly well. And dont expect music-box delicacy from A silver piano that chimes all living things together, which is underpinned by a declamatory, rock-like beat.

How different from the vestigial sounds of The mournful guitars and Now a double bass takes off, whose absurdist titles belie music of distilled beauty and strange charm; Gjerris is pure and magnetic here, limpid in Now it is raining on a song. Hers is a voice of silver and strength, and one Id love to hear in Mahler. That said, the orchestra also shines, the musics valedictory air and faltering pulse superbly caught by the Dacapo engineers. This may not be an SACD, but the class and sophistication of this recording is very impressive indeed.

The concluding work, the four-part Waves of Reflection, may be less serendipitous than the other pieces here, yet its still highly engaging. The Varse-like sound blocks of Reflection, commingled with brass chords and heavy beats, create a kaleidoscope of clashing shapes and colours, the accordion adding its distinctive, breathy sound to Interlude. As for the gentle lapping of Wave, it has a curious sense of detachment of Orientalism, perhaps that could so easily pall. That it doesnt is testament to Bruuns good judgment he doesnt overwork his material and the fabulous playing of the Esbjerg Ensemble.

This is another quality release from Dacapo, Wivels exhaustive notes confirming the companys belief in good production values. And while some may feel 55 minutes is short measure, this is a well-balanced and varied taster thats whetted my appetite for more. What better recommendation than that?

Dan Morgan


































































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