”The Deserted Churchyards” (1990)
For six instruments
Performed by the Esbjerg Ensemble
”The Echoing Garden;” IV. Andantino Sospeso, Con Fluttuazione (1990/92)
For orchestra and choir
Performed the Danmarks Radiosymfoniorkester and the Danish National Radio Choir
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Bent Sørensen probably said the best thing I’ve ever heard from composer when giving a talk about his music – “I don’t want to talk about what musical materials [e.g. harmonies, rhythms] I use; it’s too embarrassing.”
Bent Sørensen’s music is obsessed with death and endless decay as he said “From the moment we are born, there is only one way – a slowly sliding decay. Time eats away at us.” It is a transient music filled of passing phantoms, funeral processions, distant bells carried by the wind, time-destroyed frescos, overgrown gardens, and fading dreams, hopes, and longing.
Some of my colleagues have complained that there is little to hold onto in Bent Sørensen’s compositions; but I contend that that is exactly the point. The music constantly slips from your hands so clearly that if you pay close attention you can almost watch the ebb and flow of your own thoughts and attention.
It seems almost silly to talk about music that is always fragilely falling and teetering on a threshold of non-existence. In the liner notes for an out of print disc of Bent Sørensen’s music en lieau of a written description for “The Deserted Churchyards,” there is a black and white photo showing a crumbled tombstone against an arid autumn landscape.
Similarly, I cannot think of words to explain “The Echoing Garden.” I can only think of how I first heard this piece in the McGill Digital Composition Studio in February and how, on this coldest day of the winter, you could hear the horrifyingly dark wind blow against and batter the sealed-off windows.