Sakari Oramo / Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Per Nørgård: Symphonies 1 & 8

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More than half a century separates Per Nørgård's Symphony No. 1, "Sinfonia austera" (1953-55), and his Symphony No. 8 (2010-11), spanning a career that has seen great changes in music. Nørgård is simultaneously a traditionalist and an innovator, so it's not surprising to find that his music reflects many influences, from the symphonies of Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen, to serialism, spectral music, jazz, and beyond. Yet his own works show that he has thoroughly internalized his sources and made everything serve his personal expression, not any arbitrary system or ideology. The symphonies stand as signposts marking developments in his music, so where the Symphony No. 1 shows the young Nørgård in search of an original voice, the Symphony No. 8 seems like a grand summation of his methods and is as complete a statement as can be made by such an eclectic composer. The Vienna Philharmonic under Sakari Oramo plays with commitment, precision, and energy, and the performances are utterly compelling in the hybrid SACD format, which gives the orchestra incredible presence. This is the world-premiere recording of the Symphony No. 8, which was recorded live at the Wiener Konzerthaus, but the excellent multichannel sound exposes few background noises.

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