Review: Nørgård’s Symphony No. 3 in U.K. debut, by BBC Scottish Symphony

Posted on: August 24, 2018

“The main work in Thomas Dausgaard’s second BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Prom was Per Nørgård’s extraordinary Third Symphony, receiving its overdue UK premiere more than 40 years after its completion,” writes Tim Ashley in Wednesday’s (8/22) Guardian (U.K.). “Nørgård’s output is usually described as combining an evolutionary technique derived from Sibelius with an idiosyncratic serialism rooted in mathematical formulae, all of which gives little indication of his range or power. Written for chorus and orchestra, his Third Symphony is conceived in vast, metaphysical terms. Like the symphonies of Mahler and Scriabin, it interrogates the cosmos in search of its meaning. It’s also astonishingly gripping, from the opening growl, suggestive of primal matter heaving itself into existence, to the serene final assertion, its text drawn from Rainer Maria Rilke … In between, life takes shape and form, and voices stutter to find words in an organic flood of sound, sometimes beautiful, often deeply unnerving. Dausgaard’s commitment was never in doubt. The playing and choral singing—from the London Voices and National Youth Chamber Choir of Great Britain—blended refinement with fierce intensity…. Wagner [the Prelude to Parsifal] and Strauss [Four Last Songs] formed the concert’s first half.”

Posted August 24, 2018