De Fynske Katarakter

Ib Nørholm
ob, cl, fg, pno, vl, vla, vlc, cb
2-8 instr
B4, 37 pages


The cataracts of the Nile are well-known: The sudden steep slides, where the giant river ”changes gears”, so to speak, but cataracts on Funen? This gentle Danish island cannot boast any rivers or even waterfalls; therefore we will have to approach things from a more metaphorical and emotionally tinted point of view.

The octet is a ”homage” to Funen and serves as a musical booking of Ib Nørholm’s life on the island in the 60s and early 70s. Back then he was employed as a teacher of musical history and –theory at the Carl Nielsen Academy of Music in Odense. His close ties with Funen caused significant personal consequences for the composer, meaning that this work serves as both emotional and musical ”water chutings”; a kind of compositional ”Funen Revisited”.

The music is in three levels: an almost classically rocking ”wave painting” as accompaniment to the somewhat solistic melodic lines in the oboe and the clarinet. Some loose and rhapsodic episodes block the way causing the current to be disconnected (cataract also means paropsis), but these singular rather brilliantly tinted cadences (cataracts) – solistic or ensemble – do not dislocate the general impression. On the contrary, they emphasize the pulsating and ongoing aspects of the work. It is in 4/4, but due to the almost consistent use of syncopes, links and triplets the movement has an obvious touch of ”barcarole”: the listener is almost literally ”on the water”, and more or less tangible landscapes rapidly pass the imaginary rail. Things go fast, and the undercurrents are treacherous.

- Poul Ruders, 1985


  • Score DKK283.75(€ ~38.00)
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