Per Nørgård’s Winter Hymn belongs to a group of choral works based Ole Sarvig’s hymn-poem Året (The Year) that were composed in the wake of his Third Symphony. As with the symphony, the contrapuntal strands of Winter Hymn are related by way of Nørgård’s “infinity series,” a special technique for serializing pitch whereby the series projects potentially limitless replications of itself in various rhythmic layers. Nørgård has described the work as follows: “Just as we all live amidst a multitude of fast and slow activities at the same time, the melodies in Winter Hymn unfold in several time relationships across one another—and yet together—not unlike the proportional canons of certain of the renaissance composers. Abstract and theoretical as such descriptions may seem, the sounding music will still be an immediately perceptible simultaneity of time flows held in mutual tension and harmony. Thus the music approaches the many time progressions of nature and of the mind which Ole Sarvig’s simple yet profound hymn texts are about.
Thursday, March 2, 2006