Ronald E. Grames
, January 2013
…this is, in many ways, a new work. The roles of narrator, poet, and witch are now merged in the single soloist, [Helene Gjerris,] who sings as well a number of the choruses reworked into arias. She even plays crotales and a pair of metronomes. All is scaled to the chamber ensemble, with a more compact prelude and a more austere and text-focused presentation. The instrumentalists, besides providing superb accompaniment for the telling of the tale, help out with assorted shouts and cries, and represent the evil sprites with a falsetto chorus. Helene Gjerris, who performed as the witch in the premiere of the original version, is simply stunning in her much larger speaking and singing role. The text is provided in English translation, which is essential as much of the work is spoken, though Gjerris is so good that it is a pleasure simply to listen to her perform.
Included with the CD is a DVD offering a 25-minute interview with the composer and librettist, produced by Denmark’s TV Glad, a television station run for and by persons with intellectual and functional disabilities. Two TV Glad reporters accompany Nørgård and the musicians on a train trip to Aalborg for a performance of Will-o’-the-Wisps in Town. During the trip he explains the work and its genesis to the reporters in a clear and completely non-condescending way that is as helpful to the unchallenged viewer as to its intended audience. It might be the best place to start…
As always with Dacapo, production values and presentation—designed by Glad Design, a sister organization to TV Glad—are first-rate. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review