Petter Sundkvist

Peter Bruun: Letters to the Ocean

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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins

Danish composer Peter Bruun, born in 1968, has learned from many of the -isms of mid- to late 20th century composition but doesn't adhere strictly to any of them. His work is evocative, colorful, and easy to follow, but without resorting to neo-Romanticism or neo-anything; this is distinctly contemporary music. This Dacapo CD includes three multi-movement pieces for chamber ensemble, with mezzo-soprano added for one of them and accordion for another. They are all remarkable for the inventiveness and originality of their orchestration. They also seem to develop organically (if not always predictably), based on a strongly intuitive sense of purpose and direction. A Silver Bell that Chimes all Living Things Together, an unconventional song cycle, is notable not so much for lyrical vocal writing as for its dramatic and evocative accompaniments. Its stylistically varied movements (they don't seem like songs in the conventional sense) effectively convey the emotional complexity of the poetry and create a satisfying musical whole. Letters to the Ocean, for large chamber ensemble, uses the repetition of gestures, and the subtle variations of the gestures to suggest the constantly shifting character of the ocean. Perhaps it is the title that creates the mindset, but it is just about impossible to hear its three movements without imagining seascapes. Waves of Reflection, for accordion and ensemble, also inescapably conjures up oceanic imagery. For most of its length, it’s the simplest and gentlest of the pieces and its moments of serenity, particularly in the first, third and fourth movements, are simply lovely. Petter Sundkvist leads the Esbjerg Ensemble in precise, nuanced readings of the scores that enhance their poetic expressiveness. The sound is clean, atmospheric, and nicely ambient. This is a CD that should interest any fans of contemporary music. (Listeners may want to note that the track timings listed in the program booklet bear little relationship to the actual lengths of the tracks.)

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Breve til havet (Letters to the Ocean), for ensemble
1 Petter Sundkvist 03:43 Amazon
2 Petter Sundkvist 07:11 Amazon
3 Petter Sundkvist 03:57 Amazon
4 Petter Sundkvist 02:19 Amazon
En klokke af sølv, der kimer alt levende sammen (A Silver Bell that Chimes all Living Things Together), for mezzo-soprano and ensemble
5 Petter Sundkvist 05:32 Amazon
6 Petter Sundkvist 01:46 Amazon
7 Petter Sundkvist 05:20 Amazon
8 Petter Sundkvist 02:46 Amazon
9 Petter Sundkvist 01:17 Amazon
10 Petter Sundkvist 05:43 Amazon
Spejlbølger (Waves of Reflection), for accordion and ensemble
11 Petter Sundkvist 03:05 Amazon
12 Petter Sundkvist 05:06 Amazon
13 Petter Sundkvist 02:00 Amazon
14 Petter Sundkvist 05:12 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick