ADAGIO for strings (1950-51)
The spectrum of sound, the gesticulation – in short, the very nature of the strings – has always had a central place in my output, demonstrated by the numbers of string quartets, concertos with string soloist, chamber and solo works. The interest dates back to my school years, when I was fortunate to be able to compose for a cello-playing schoolmate and to accompany him on the piano. I discovered then the innumerable nuances of sound and playing varieties offered by just one bow, four strings and five fingers..
"Adagio" (1950-51) is my earliest work for strings. A soft melodic line, in double-octave spacing, unfolds itself in a growing dynamic intensity until it is split up in several lines; at the conclusion, it is unified again in the original instrumental setting.
This piece was originally the middle movement of my “Preludio for string orchestra”. Because I comprehensively rejected my output dating from before my opus 1 (from 1953), it was not until Christoph Schüren asked me to take another look at the “Preludio” that I realized that the second movement, "Adagio", was fully in line with my later works.
For this initiative, I gratefully dedicated the ´survivor´ to Christoph Schlüren.
Per Nørgård (1999)
Note: The beginning of the programme note (from “The spectrum…” to “ …five fingers.” to be used ad lib..