Niels Rosing-Schow

Niels Rosing-Schow: Winds and Percussion

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Niels Rosing-Schow is a major voice in Danish contemporary music, and this DaCapo "open space" release Winds and Percussion features four works of recent vintage. Piseq -- Ritus III appeared previously on the DuoDenum album Four Works for Saxophone and Percussion. It is the weakest of the four, consisting mostly of a kind of wandering around in the dark. When it finally gets going, it is exciting, except by then its 15 minutes is almost up. Much better is Spiral Ladder II featuring the fiery virtuoso accordion playing of Geir Draugsvoll and James Crabb. Spiral Ladder II is fast music based around loop structures that are carefully modified, so it is not fair to refer to the piece as repetitive or minimalistic. Yet it has that effect, and Rosing-Schow reconsiders the accordion apart from the "noisemaker" status with which many people, especially in America, associate it, into the free-reed instrument that it truly is.

Equally good is Ritus II, a low-key percussion piece played by the group Touché. It is reminiscent of Henry Cowell's Ostinato Pianissimo but is much longer and divided into three sections, played without pause. Far from being a collection of sound effects, Ritus II maintains a constant sense of pulse that is attractive and should find its way into the repertoire of percussion ensembles worldwide. Windgeboren, at 22 minutes, is an unusually long piece for a brass ensemble -- unlike other chamber groups, brass players need to come up for air once in awhile. Like Ritus II, Windgeboren is scored in three sections, and it is still a lot of work, but nothing seems too hard for trumpeter Markus Stockhausen's group Die Michaelstrompeter, who burn through this piece like it is no big deal. Stylistically, the first two parts are reminiscent of Carl Ruggles, and there is a very creative use of mutes in the second movement "Passage." The concluding "Hymn" utilizes simple, common chords with the occasional tricky modulation in a manner worthy of Gordon Jacob. Rosing-Schow looks like a contender; a contemporary composer whose interesting, and good, music succeeds in being innovative without being torturous or boring.

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