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Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, March 2017

The Athelas ensemble has been around for many years and has played PGH’s music on several occasions. These musicians seem comfortable with the composer’s sarcasm, humor, and Beckett-like tonescapes. Although this is not easy music, the Athelos Sinfonietta of Copenhagen is a patient and enthusiastic guide, and these new performances do no harm—neither to their reputation nor to the composer’s! That being so, they are recommended, but only if you are a sturdy person. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review



Liam Cagney
Gramophone, January 2017

GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN, P.: Mirror II / Symfoni, Antifoni / Incontri (BBC Symphony, Dausgaard) 8.226120
GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN: String Quartets Nos. 10-11 / Green / No Ground Green / New Ground Green (Kronos Quartet, Theatre of Voices, Hillier) 8.226153
GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN, P: Traffic/Repriser/Rerepriser/Three Songs to Texts by Politiken/Og (Bod, Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen, Nordin, Valade) 8.226126

On the surface it seems familiar. Sure, there’s the repetition of brief tonal cells; musical quotations (familiar figures from Stravinsky, Sibelius, Mozart); modality; dashes of Nordic colour; quirky instrumentation; simple metre; Stravinskian objectivity; and, overhanging it all, a wry air by which Gudmundsen-Holmgreen makes clear he doesn’t take himself too seriously. But for me there’s something else going on here: at its best his music uses those features only to pass through them into a more mysterious, anonymous zone. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2016

Yesterday, the 27th of June, 2016, the world lost the Danish-born Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, one of its most provocative and inventive composers of the 20th century. He branded himself ‘a pessimist’, then added ‘a failed pessimist’, the latter was true as he had been hugely successful at the cutting edge of modernism working in his own curious atonality, and always seeking out the most unique sounds, often from an unusual combination of instruments. Please don’t get me wrong, for if you are a musical traditionalist you would quickly turn off this new release of his works for chamber orchestra, but please just continue listening, and out of his somewhat crazy world you will discover a fascination. The cacophonous Traffic, which opens the disc, is a picture of the noises that are inflicted on us each day, and not representative of the remainder of the disc, which is often painted in subtle colours. The most extended score is the nine sections of Repriser (Recapitulations), composed in 1965, the varied textures ranging from the explosive Third, to passages of near silence in the Sixth. Two years later he wrote Rerepriser, which he described as ‘a pretty ugly piece’, as punk music meets up with the classics. By contrast the three short songs for mezzo—sung by Anette Bod—and a quintet chamber group, are purely tonal and almost of a naive content, but are then interspersed by atonal Interludes. Finally we arrive at the year 2012—by which time he was eighty—and he begins work on Og, that being the Danish word for ‘and’. The inference of that title being that there is always an ‘and’ in an argument between opposing characters, in this case differing musical groups. The Athelas Sinfonietta and the record label, Dacapo, have been the composer’s worthy champions, the sound quality of this release being outstanding. © 2016 David’s Review Corner





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