Aftonland (1957) for soprano and chamber orchestra, the work to give Nordheim his breakthrough in the Northern countries, is written on the basis of four poems by the Swedish Nobel prize-winner, the writer Pär Lagerkvist. The original version is for soprano accompanied by five strings, harp, celesta and percussion. The second version (1965) is for soprano and chamber orchestra with 22 strings. The work is dedicated to the memory of the composer’s father, Erling Nordheim.
Transition, transformation and existential wonder, as evoked by these lines in the second movement, resonate, sympathetically, seemed to be etched into the very musical fabric as well. Nordheim's free-tonal language with its dissonant intervals is employed effectively to punctuate Aftonland's powerful expressivity. Beyond the contours and importance of the lines, however, the instrumentation too probes broad expressive registers and is highly foregrounded in its own right. (Morten Eide Pedersen)