Gunnar Berg: í‰clatements
Erik Kaltoft, piano

Da Capo Records

I’d never heard of the Swiss Danish composer Gunnar Berg until this album, but I’m glad I encountered this work. Berg (no relation to Alban), who died in 1989, was a serialist who was part of the Darmstadt scene with Messiaen, Boulez, Stockhausen and others. The 72-minute, unfinished piano work í‰clatements is an interesting group of 13 serialist movements and performed exquisitely by Erik Kaltoft.

What I find fascinating about this work, which is given its recording premiere via this CD, is that it never sounds like the dry 12-tone style that is sometimes associated with the Darmstadt school. I suspect that characterization isn’t fair; Feldman, Ligeti and other nonserialist composers certainly attended Darmstadt. In any case, this set of pieces is quite a find. They’re short, pithy movements that are at times dead serious, at times comical, and always engaging. I don’t sense much in the way of the influence of Boulez or Stockhausen in this long collection. Rather, there seems to be an individual voice at work, one who understood how to use rows melodically and expressively. About my only complaint with the CD is the often dry acoustics/engineering. The liner notes are useful, and the CD has motivated me to learn more about this composer.

2 Responses to “music by gunnar berg”
  1. Jens Rossel says:

    What a welcomed listening to Danish composer Gunnar Berg’s Éclatements for piano. Gunnar Berg was born January 11, 1909 in St. Gallen – his music should be performed around the world in his centenary 2009. Concerts in Denmark and Schwitzerland has already been planned. Don’t hesitate to contact Working Group Gunnar Berg if you would like to know more about Gunnar Berg and his music.
    David’s motivation to learn more about him can be fullfilled with two sets of historic recordings on Danish label Danacord – http://www.danacord.dk. The first set includes his four piano concerts – Aloys Kontarsky is soloist in Essay accoustique. The second set includes his music for piano solo performed by his wife, French pianist Béatrice Berg. David: give me your address, and I will post it to you.

    Gunnar Berg became friend with John Cage in Paris in the late 40’es – allow me to use the famous Cage greetings by wishing all of you lots of happy new ears in 2008.

    Greetings Jens Rossel

  2. David Toub says:

    Thanks! Just e-mailed you with my address, and I appreciate your comments,

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