Søren Nils Eichberg: Before Heaven, Before Earth; Symphonies nos 1 & 2 / Poppen, Danish Nat’l SO

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This Dacapo CD presents the world premiere recording of symphonies nos. 1 and 2 by Danish-German composer Søren Nils Eichberg performed by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Christoph Poppen. A recipient of first prize at the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels in 2001 and the first ever composer in residence of the Danish National Symphony, the young composer's music (he was born in 1973) has been performed and enthusiastically received across many continents.

Eichberg's music is immediately appealing, colorful, and irresistibly powerful. Composed in four movements, but performed in one continuous sequence, the Symphony No. 1 of 2005, subtitled "If we flung ourselves into the flames" takes its inspiration from a doomsday vision by Portuguese author José Saramago. Brutal and violent, the music sounds as though it is marching apocalyptically, as does humanity in the literary analogy, headlong toward its own destruction. Similarly designed, the grim and powerful Second Symphony, subtitled "Before Heaven, Before Earth", is also in four continuous movements. Highly illustrative and evocative, both works will have a somewhat cinematic feeling for many listeners.

Structurally, this music is rooted in rhythmic, melodic and harmonic seeds of musical ideas that emerge throughout each composition, often in the form of ostinatos - repetitive rhythmic or melodic patterns. He makes use of some very original percussive sounds - one instrument I can only guess is two rods of steel - and makes wonderful use of the piano as a member of the percussion section. You can listen to the opening of the Symphony No. 2 on the sample provided with this review. There is also a performance of Eichberg's Queen Elisabeth Competition award winning "Qilaatersorneq" for violin and orchestra as well as an interview with the composer conducted by violinist Hillary Hahn.

"My generation of composers is most eager to communicate with the audience" states Mr. Eichberg in the album notes, "and we are not intent on instructing people. We just want to make good music that doesn't make listeners hold their hands to their ears." Eichberg has, of course, achieved far more than this, and we should roll out the red carpet for this contemporary classical music, written to draw its listener in.

Søren Nils Eichberg: "Qilaatersorneq" for violin and orchestra



Hillary Hahn interviews composer Søren Nils Eichberg