Passacaglia

(1994)
Martin Palsmar
3.3.3.3/4.3.3.1/3 perc/arpa/archi
Symphony orchestra
7:00
1995
B.0246

In 1979 a composition by Tage Nielsen entitled Lamento was first performed by Aarhus Symphony Orchestra. He was, however, dissatisfied with the piece and withdrew it immediately after the first performance. In spite of this, the then head of the music department of Radio Denmark, Mogens Andersen, became interested in the work. In agreement with the composer he commissioned a rearranged version that was to be performed by the Danish Radio Orchestra. This resulted in a larger and quite different composition in 1981, where only the basic motifs and the outer form was preserved. The new work was called Passacaglia and had its first performance in November 1983 conducted by Lamberto Gardelli. 

The Passacaglia consists of variations on a pattern of ostinato harmonies, which in its primary form features only four chords with a corresponding declining melody line: D – C Sharp – B – A Sharp. The variation suite forms a sequence with an ever increasing density of expression, culminating in a section with fierce outbursts in which the whole orchestra participates. Then, after a subdued wind choral, the work finishes with a dense polyphonic movement which is pervaded by the four note motif - both upward and downward - in different tempi at the same time. 


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