WINTER HYMN for mixed choir (1976/1984)
(arr. by Gunnar Eriksson)
With Per Nørgård´s choral works from the 1970s you are in a flower garden of melodies – all based on selections of his so called infinity series (for example every thirds or every fifth, 15th, 20th, 45th etc.), melodies that are combined with each other – or with themselves in different tempi.
On these works and on Winter Hymn Nørgård writes:
When in 1975 I had finished composing my 3rd Symphony (begun in 1972), I wrote three simple melodies for two psalm texts by Ole Sarvig: “The Year” and “Choral Hymn”. These three tunes were derived from the same material as the second movement of the 3rd Symphony and could be harmonized together in several different tempo relationships at the same time - like fractals – which inspired me to write several choral and instrumental works in the following decade based on these melodies: “Frost Psalm”, “Winter Cantata”, “Cantica”, “Cycle” and others. One of these ‘Sarvig melodies’ is now in the Danish Hymnbook, under the title "Året" (The Year).
Just as we all live amidst a multitude of fast and slow activities at the same time, the melodies of Winter Hymn unfold in several time relationships across one another – and yet together – not unlike the ideas behind the proportional canons (etc.) of certain Renaissance composers. Abstract and theoretical as such a description may seem, the sounding music will still be an immediately perceptible simultaneity of time flows held in mutual tension and harmony. Thus the music approaches the many time-progressions of nature and of mind, which the Danish poet Ole Sarvig´s simple yet profound hymn text is about.
”Winter Hymn” is based on parts of my other ´Sarvig-works´ of the 1970s, arranged by the Swedish choir leader and longtime collaborator Gunnar Eriksson, in 1984. The work is available in both a Danish version (“Vintersalme”) and in the English version, based on a translation by Helen and Ole Sarvig.
Per Nørgård (1998)