Bent Sorensen - Snowbells (works for choir) | Dacapo 6220629

Bent Sorensen - Snowbells (works for choir)


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Label: Dacapo

Cat No: 6220629

Barcode: 0747313162963

Format: Hybrid SACD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Vocal/Choral

Release Date: 26th February 2016



Bent Sørensen's atmospheric vocal work Sneklokker (Snowbells) from 2010 arose as the audio accompaniment for the unique art installation ‘The White Forest’, in which an area in a summer-green forest was partly transformed into a snow-white winter forest. In this premiere recording by the Danish National Vocal Ensemble and conductor Paul Hillier the listener is guided through an almost unearthly landscape of human voices interwoven with the recorded sound of the bells of the village churches around the forest. The CD also offers a selection of sacred and secular choral works by Sørensen with texts by leading Danish poets, from both Romanticism and the present day.

“It reminds me of something I’ve never heard!”

Such was the spontaneous reaction of the Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim upon hearing a work by Bent Sørensen. And it is not easy to imagine a more strangely to-the-point description of the ambiguous, almost paradoxical expressive idiom of this unique composer, who is without doubt the leading Danish composer of his generation.

Sørensen’s music is not recycled; in no way does it rely on the yellowing pages of history for its musical nourishment. His musical language is undeniably of the present day, both aesthetically and technically. The music does, however, appear to be pervaded with memories, wisdom of experience and old dreams, of the inevitability of transitoriness and parting. It is a flickering, glittering world where things seem to disappear at the slightest touch.

The moment something becomes tangible and recognizable, it dissolves, becomes obscured, or disappears. But this ghost-like indistinctness is nevertheless the work of an experienced illusionist. Perhaps Sørensen’s most singular talent is his ability to give voice to this indistinctness, to render it distinct and clear. Often he places very simple musical material inside an ingenious musical “hall of mirrors” in which echoes, and echoes of echoes, spread like ripples in water; the quiet, smudged contours, which sound as though heard through falling rain or misted windows, are always drawn in minute, calligraphic detail.


[Snowbells] was probably atmospheric in a dappled-light kind of way when experienced in situ, but on disc there’s something excruciatingly pallid and fey about it. The Danish National Vocal Ensemble sounds beautiful under Paul Hillier, though, making a warm, unforced, understated blend, and earlier Sørensen works on the album give the singers more meaty material to play with: try the haunting Three Motets or the shapely Lacrimosa, both from 1985.  Kate Molleson
The Guardian 11 March 2016

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