Denmark’s four leading composers – Poul Ruders, Per Nørgård, Bent Sørensen and Hans Abrahamsen - have allowed the experimental trio Alpha to take their music behind the looking glass and let their works re-emerge in the trio’s very own sound world. Played and recorded entirely by heart, Alpha’s close encounter with the musical essences of seven different works seems to reveal the form and richness of each composer’s imagination in a new magical reflection.
The Danish String Quartet has had some wildly original programming ideas; here they settle for just a well-thought-out set of contemporary pieces. All three of these string quartets are early works by composers who have since gone on to renown; at the time of the album's 2016 release, Hans Abrahamsen was gaining lots of attention from well beyond his native Denmark.
Michael Mantler, jazz and new music iconoclast, has been on a quest for the past 25 years to find new marriages of voices and words in his compositions. Here, with the help of distinguished vocalists such as Robert Wyatt and Susi Hyldgaard, he has succeeded in perhaps finally finding that direction without faltering. In the past he has employed not only Wyatt and Hyldgaard, but also Marianne Faithfull and the poems of Beckett, Brecht, Mallarme, and others, but always with mixed results.
Ukrainian pianist and composer Misha Alperin joins forces for the first time in session with British reedist John Surman (a last-minute replacement for Tore Brunborg) in this melodious, spontaneous set. Augmented by Arkady Shilkloper on French horn and flugelhorn, Terje Gewelt on bass, and Jon Christensen on drums, their hypnotic nexus breathes ounces of thematic life into the “Overture” in watery, stepwise motion. Surman’s reptilian soprano takes us in some unexpected directions throughout a holistic introduction, while his unmistakable baritone threads resilient cables through “Twilight house” and “City Dance.” The first of these is where the session truly comes to life through his interactions with Alperin, while the latter serves a touch of groove in a veritable trill buffet (think Snakeoil). “Movement” features classical percussionist Hans-Kristian Kjos Sørensen (heard previously on No Birch) in a spindly improv, the pointillism and melancholy draw of which only thinly veil its composed undercurrent. A lovely solo from Shilkloper on French horn rises like a paper lantern lit and offered to the sky.
Cornerstone is the Danish-Scottish classic rock band formed around the members Dougie White from Rainbow and Steen Mogensen from Royal Hunt. Their debut album Arrival was released in the fall of 2000. Written completely be Mogensen, Arrival is excellent melodic hard rock with a characteristic european flavour, reminding the listener at times of Magnum, Deep Purple and other classic 70's bands.