, October 2011
New music for horn trio that needs fear no comparison with past great works
Of the three works here for the horn trio combination made classic by the masterpieces of Brahms and Ligeti (recorded some 10 years ago by the wonderful Danish Horn Trio—Chandos, 9/02), none appears overawed by the possible comparisons. Taken together, they offer a fascinating cross-section of the diversity of temperament among Danish composers.
Pride of place goes to the best-known figure of Poul Ruders. His Horn Trio dares to shadow the classic four-movement design, starting with a lengthy phase of rarefied Webernesque linearity, before a Bartókian perpetuum mobile and a horn solo with microtonal bendings (coloured by freely vibrating piano strings) provide polarised contrasts that the finale then juggles and re-balances.
To those familiar with Pelle Gudmundsen Holmgreen’s work, the pared-down abstraction of Near Still Distant Still will come as no surprise. Here is music that derives maximum effect from minimal means in a non-glamorous yet fascinating dialect of minimalism. More orientated towards conventional performative virtuosity and audience expectation is the Horn Trio of Søren Nils Eichberg, a new figure to me. From moment to moment this is highly engaging music in a polystylistic Messiaen to MacMillan way. On the broader level it satisfies less than the other two pieces, precisely because it seems unable to resist the urge to please.
It is a talented piece nevertheless, and worth its place on a disc that is as finely recorded as it is played.