• Poul Ruders
  • Songs and Rhapsodies (2011)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • acn; fl(afl.pic).ob(ca).cl(bcl).bn.hn
  • 25 min

Programme Note

“It would be tempting to see the suite Songs and Rhapsodies as a natural sequel to Serenade on the Shores of the Cosmic Ocean, a piece which, like Songs and Rhapsodies, is centered on a solo accordion part. In the present piece, however, it is not a string quartet, but the classical wind quintet - flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, and a bassoon - playing up against - and with - the brilliant accordion.

But it is not just the difference in the orchestration that separates the two pieces. The serenade is more literary, in the sense that it is quotes, primarily from works by the late astronomer Carl Sagan that have inspired me in my composition, musically and spiritually, of the movements. In Songs and Rhapsodies each movement works on its own account, so to speak. Even the title indicates that this is a piece that alternates between the rhapsodic, i.e. the impulsive, and a more melodic music. There are four rhapsodies, factually named First Rhapsody, Second Rhapsody etc.

The melodic movements bear more poetic titles who are meant to reveal a little more about the character of each of the movements: Gateway to Dreaming, Shadow Play, Swan Song, etc. One title, however – the fifth movement - calls for an explanation: The Desert of Time Revisited. Here I return - briefly, very briefly - to my first symphony from 1990. 'The Desert of Time” - a quote from Milan Kundera - becomes the motto of the second movement of the symphony, a static music, trance-like fluctuating between two chords: D flat major and B minor.

Songs and Rhapsodies is about 25 minutes long and explores, like the Serenade before it, the fascinating and unexpected possibilities for harmonies emerging between the accordion and the more traditional instruments.

Songs and Rhapsodies is written for Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen and Frode Andersen.
The work is dedicated to Frode Andersen.

- Poul Ruders