Ní˜RGí…RD: The Will-o’-the-Wisps Go to Town; Sí˜RENSEN: The Little Mermaid. Jens Albinus, vocal; Inger Dam-Jensen, Helene Gjerris, soprano; Gert Henning-Jensen, Bo Kristian Jensen, tenor; Ylva Kihlberg, mezzo-soprano; Danish National Girls’ Choir, Sun & Moon, Ars Nova Copenhagen/Thomas Dausgaard. Dacapo 8.226046 67 minutes
Music for children. Music written for children to play must be relatively simple, from a technical point of view, and tends to be didactic and functional. But music written for children to experience is a different beast altogether, and offers composers great opportunities for freedom and experimentation.
Danish composers Per Ní¸rgí¥rd (b. 1932) and Bent Sí¸rensen (b. 1958) take full advantage of the opportunity in their settings of stories by Hans Christian Andersen. Both pieces, Ní¸rgí¥rd’s The Will-o’-the-Wisps Go to Town and Sí¸rensen’s The Little Mermaid, are exuberant exercises in polystylism, with techniques and effects drawn from every school of modern and postmodern composition in existence.
These are delightful works, well-written and extremely well played by the large force under the direction of Thomas Dausgaard. My only reservation (and it’s more of a caution than a musical reservation) is that long stretches of the Ní¸rgí¥rd consist of narration in Danish.