Four Dances in One Movement
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
[Poul Ruders’s] ear for sonority on a smaller scale is acute and precise. His ability to conjure up a complete sound world with only a handful of instruments shines through in these pieces for reduced forces – its hard to believe that only ten players are involved in Nightshade, for instance…Four Dances, composed in 1983, sounds as fresh as Abysm from 2000. The pace increases from the Chinese whispers of the first dance , where solo violin traces the melody woven by solo clarinet, through the slow waltz of the second movement and the Stravinskyan rhythmic drive of the third, to the finale, where musical threads are drawn together…This leads naturally into the much darker world of Nightshade (1987), dominated by subterranean sounds which slither around like a fairy-tale monster: even the brief contrasting passages in a higher register have a sense of menace…
Recording sound is clear and performances are committed, as you would expect from the BCMG and Oliver Knussen.
Performance [five stars]
Recording [five stars]
Martin Cotton, BBC Music Magazine, 4/1/2010