One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

absolutely thrilling

immediacy and spontaneity

Schumann Lieder

24 Preludes
one of the finest piano discs

‘Box of Delights.’

J S Bach A New Angle
Organ fans form an orderly queue

a most welcome issue

I enjoyed it tremendously

the finest traditions of the house

music for theorbo
old and new

John Luther Adams
Become Desert
concealing a terrifying message

ground-breaking, winning release

screams quality

Surprise of the month

English Coronation, 1902-1953
magnificent achievement

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Søren Nils EICHBERG (b. 1973)
Symphony No. 3 for orchestra, choir and electronics (2015) [35:10]
Morpheus – Concerto for orchestra (2013) [27:25]
Danish National Concert Choir and Symphony Orchestra / Robert Spano, Joshua Weilerstein
rec. 2013/2015, DR Koncerthuset Concert Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark
Texts and translations included
DACAPO 8.226144 [62:35]

It’s been four years since Eichberg’s dark, provocative ‘robot-opera’ Glare premièred at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio to generally positive reviews. While the dramaturgy and vocal music put a few critics’ noses out of joint, Eichberg’s blending of instruments and electronics was singled out for praise and his seamless integration of these elements with chorus in his Third Symphony, which features on this superb Dacapo disc, impressed me mightily. This is the second issue on this label to be devoted to Eichberg’s orchestral music; its predecessor contained his first two symphonies and emerged in 2013. Like my colleague Byzantion, I found the propulsive, energised character of both pieces (these adjectives especially characterise the First Symphony), their superb orchestration and even some rather macho, and almost rock-like posturing, combined convincingly to make up a heady and irresistible cocktail. These works eschew any form of the ‘new simplicity’; they are noisy, confrontational and exciting. I find Eichberg to be the most talented of the generation of Danes born after 1970 (strictly speaking he is of dual German-Danish nationality - his birthplace was Stuttgart in fact) and this new disc triumphantly reinforces this view.

The Third Symphony was dedicated to Eichberg’s father who was in the latter stages of terminal illness at the time of its composition. In the composer’s brief note about the work in the booklet he underlines its elegiac nature and more restrained character in comparison with its predecessors. Intriguingly it incorporates a handful of diffuse elements which could strike one as being incompatible; they include electronic sounds in the form of recordings from NASA’s ‘Voyager’ probe, a Danish lullaby popularised by Nielsen, excerpts from the enigmatic, ancient poetry of Qu Yuan and the use of algorithms. In fact the whole piece coheres wonderfully well in its eight short sections and amounts to far more than the sum of its parts.

The symphony begins with fearful blows on the bass-drum, ominous and aggressive by turn, before the low voices of the chorus declaim excerpts from Qu Yuan’s unanswerable ‘Heavenly Questions’ and the listener becomes momentarily aware of the unearthly sounds of space; clearly we are looking outwards, not inwards. Spiralling high flute figures emerge and barely survive sharp interjections from the rest of the orchestra. The din subsides and reveals the childrens’ lullaby Solen er så rød, mor (Look, the sun is red, mum), tenderly presented on harp and pizzicato strings. Again there are acerbic interruptions, a dissonantly spectral string chord, the NASA sounds, and little cells of tuned percussion motifs, before the choir enters again, this time presenting a Hebrew text about lost childhood, accompanied by more percussion, this time like dimmed stars in a cloudy Northern sky. These vocal contributions combine chant, speech, and whispering and are punctuated by creepy, rising string motifs before resolving in a halo of luminous choral sound. If all this sounds very fragmentary and episodic, Eichberg weaves the elements together most skilfully. The recording is exceptionally vivid and encompasses an enormous dynamic range. A tiny central episode marked Ruhig aber genau (quietly but accurately) comprises a jigsaw of Nørgårdian fragments with prominent woodblock which are swallowed up by an infinite string glissando. The work assumes real mystery as the choir asks ‘Wer kann es sagen? Wer Weiss? (Who can say? Who knows?’) in a further fragment from the unfathomable ‘Heavenly Questions’ The last fifteen minutes of the work seems to project a sense of endless renewal as colourful new motifs emerge and absorb the material that has gone before. It is fast-moving and endlessly eventful, but the frequent changes of pace are oddly disconcerting and actually strike a more reflective tone than featured in Eichberg’s first two symphonies. The seventh section is dominated by an assertive, insinuating melody which gets pulled every which way by the orchestra, while in the final section the choir returns, this time wordlessly in a glorious, consoling and luminous A major chorale; at this point the strands of the work seem on the verge of being pulled together, but big questions remain, symbolised by odd non sequiturs which disturb the equilibrium. The build up to this final chorale is spellbinding and deeply moving, almost Brucknerian. In the last minute there’s a reprise of the Nørgårdian moment over a sustained chord. Eichberg’s Third Symphony is rich and compelling, a worthy follow-up to its two predecessors. It’s wonderfully performed by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Concert Choir under the experienced American Robert Spano.

It’s paired with another ample example of Eichberg’s craftsmanship, his Concerto for Orchestra. In his clear-sighted essay in the booklet, Scandinavian music specialist Andrew Mellor identifies overlaps in this work with the first two symphonies. It’s loud, virtuosic and rather virile and perhaps belies the expectations built up by its subtitle ‘Morpheus’. He speculates that Eichberg was perhaps taking one final opportunity to push this Danish orchestra to its limits, towards the end of a richly productive period in which he had been their first ever composer-in-residence. The concerto is certainly swaggering and virtuosic, and over seven brief sections draws on the traditions for the genre established firstly by Bartók and more obviously in this case by Lutoslawski. The percussionists are kept very busy, indeed stabbing-like gestures predominate throughout the work. There are rewarding contrasts between fast and slow sections, between the motoric and the static, and Eichberg’s handling of the colours at his disposal is confident and masterly. The Concerto is entirely satisfying and convincing in itself and constitutes much more than a makeweight for the symphony. In this live reading the band are energetically marshalled by another American, Joshua Weilerstein. The concerto’s rousing conclusion is greeted with whoops of delight by the Copenhagen audience.

The advocacy afforded to Eichberg by the Dacapo label is well-merited, and they have here rewarded him with two superlative recordings. 21st century orchestral music does not come much more exciting than this, and especially in the case of the symphony, more affecting to the open-minded, open-hearted listener. I urge anyone who has any serious interest in the future of the orchestra, and its traditional forms, to hear this exceptional disc.

Richard Hanlon

We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger