Grawemeyer Award to Bent Sorensen

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John F
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Grawemeyer Award to Bent Sorensen

Post by John F » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:38 am

This is one of the most important and richest prizes for new classical music. Links to the piece on YouTube are provided in the NY Times story online.

Hear the Piece That Won One of Music’s Biggest Prizes
By ZACHARY WOOLFE
NOV. 28, 2017

Bent Sorensen, a Danish composer known for trembling, glistening works that have drawn comparisons to the paintings of Georges Seurat, has won the 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his triple concerto “L’Isola della Città.”

Presented by the University of Louisville in Kentucky, the Grawemeyer is one of contemporary music’s most prestigious prizes, and comes with a $100,000 award. In Mr. Sorensen, 59, it has gone to a creator of works of hushed drama, full of sliding, drooping, flickering motifs that conjure ghostly, nocturnal worlds of disintegration and melancholy, also evoked by titles like “The Weeping White Room,” “The Deserted Churchyards” and “This Night of No Moon.”

Written for the Danish ensemble Trio con Brio and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, which gave its premiere last year, “L’Isola della Città” (“The Island in the City”) unfolds over nearly half an hour in five continuous movements. Stealthy and subtle, its central threesome of soloists — piano, violin and cello, as in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto — finds oases of calm amid flares of intensity from the orchestra.

“In all five movements,” Mr. Sorensen said in a statement, “the ‘island’ (the trio) tries to escape the shadows of the orchestra. This is most evident in the last movement, in which the trio, ever so silently and without attracting any attention, simply glides away from the orchestra’s noisy shadows.”

Marc Satterwhite, the award’s director, said in a statement that the work “is not a virtuoso showcase, but rather integrates the soloists smoothly into an ever-evolving orchestral texture.” “Although it has its larger moments,” Mr. Satterwhite added, “on the whole it is one of the gentler, more introspective winners of this award.”

The New York Philharmonic will give the premiere of Mr. Sorensen’s “Evening Land” on Wednesday at Lincoln Center.

Past winners of the Grawemeyer Award include Esa-Pekka Salonen, Unsuk Chin, Kaija Saariaho, Pierre Boulez, Thomas Adès, Tan Dun, John Adams and Gyorgy Ligeti. Last year’s winner, Andrew Norman, raised concerns about gender equality in the music world, pointing out that only three women had won the award in its three-decade history.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/arts ... ensen.html
John Francis

John F
Posts: 18862
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: Grawemeyer Award to Bent Sorensen

Post by John F » Sat Dec 02, 2017 6:49 am

Coincidentally, this week the New York Philharmonic is premiering another work by Sorensen, "Evening Land," which it commissioned. (Kind of. The review explains why I'm saying that.) From what James Oestreich says in his review, Sorensen may be a composer worth getting to know in depth.

Review: A Stirring Premiere at the Philharmonic, With Perfect Timing
By JAMES R. OESTREICH
DEC. 1, 2017

It was excellent timing on someone’s part: the New York Philharmonic’s, the University of Louisville’s, or both. The orchestra is featuring the premiere of “Evening Land,” a major work by the Danish composer Bent Sorensen, in its subscription concerts this week, just days after the university declared him the recipient of the 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. The prize — one of the music world’s most prestigious and, at $100,000, most lucrative — cites Mr. Sorensen’s triple concerto “L’Isola della Citta” (“The Island in the City”), of 2016.

The Philharmonic’s commission for “Evening Land” became something of a hand-me-down from another Danish composer, Per Norgard, Mr. Sorensen’s former teacher. The Philharmonic awarded Mr. Norgard its Kravis Prize for new music in 2014 but, being too busy to compose a new work in acknowledgment, he shared the proceeds with Mr. Sorensen and redirected the task to him.

In a bit of musical chairs of another sort, the veteran maestro Edo de Waart has taken over the concerts from Christoph von Dohnanyi, who is slowly recovering from a fall. The program also includes Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20, with Emanuel Ax as soloist.

Like the award-winning “L’Isola,” the intriguing “Evening Land” somewhat combines the notions of island and city. Its inspirations are, in Mr. Sorensen’s words, “a very special evening light over the fields,” from his early childhood in a small town on the island of Zealand in Denmark, and “the new vision of flashes of light and bustling activity” that he experienced in New York 50 years later. And those words are an apt description of the stirring work, which runs some 23 minutes, tracing a symmetrical arc, from quiet, through frenetic and eruptive activity, back to quiet. Melody is everywhere, but it comes in fragments and wisps, fits, starts and cacophonous bursts.
The concertmaster — here, Sheryl Staples (in the absence of Frank Huang) — emerges from silence almost imperceptibly and in all innocence with a fetching little tune. The principal violist, Cynthia Phelps, eventually joins her, and they whisper across the podium until the other strings join in and overwhelm them. The ending, after the fray, is truly touching. The principal oboist, Liang Wang, plays the work’s longest strain, Mr. Sorensen’s tribute to his father-in-law, an oboist who died in May before he could hear the work. Mr. Wang lingers on a high note, handing it off to Ms. Staples, who leads the strings on tiptoes back to silence.

The rest of the program was predictably solid on Thursday evening. There are few surer guarantees of quality in classical music than the combination of Mr. Ax and Mozart, and Mr. Ax offered his usual elegant, understated virtuosity. The Brahms symphony proved a good showcase for Ms. Phelps and the rest of the orchestra’s superb low strings, and for Mr. Wang and his fine fellow woodwind principals. You might have wished for a little more animation at times, but Mr. de Waart and the players rose thrillingly to the end of the finale, one of Brahms’s rare rollicking moments.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/01/arts ... iming.html
John Francis

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