Terje Rypdal: Double Concerto / 5th Symphony (ECM 1567)

Terje Rypdal
Double Concerto / 5th Symphony

Terje Rypdal guitar
Ronni Le Tekro guitar
Riga Festival Orchestra
Normunds Šnē
 conductor
Recorded June 1998, Riga, and August 1998, Nyhagen
Engineers: Audun Strype and Dag Stokke
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Ever the slippery idiomatic eel, Terje Rypdal holds his own as composer in two massive works, the Double Concerto for two electric guitars and symphony orchestra and the 5th Symphony, totaling eight movements of classical brilliance. While the influences are as maverick as he, the overall consistency of texture is refreshing and clean. Rypdal and fellow guitarist Ronni Le Tekro build on a mutual appreciation as soloists for the opus 58 Concerto. Erkki-Sven Tüür fans will find much to admire here in the adroit incorporation of percussion and brass against a Baroque-flavored counterpoint in the leading motives of the first movement. After these pyrotechnic swoops, the meditations of the second movement are a welcome reprieve. Yet the torch still burns all the way to the fourth, braving a storm of Glenn Branca proportion toward cinematic resolution.

If the concerto is about closure, then Rypdal’s opus 50 is about openness. The 5th Symphony reveals a detailed aesthetic that builds with molecules of descriptive energy, as what at one moment may evoke the sway of windblown trees may trade places the next with a waterfall’s shimmering veil. From this cascade emerges a faunal English horn, poking its head through the foliage like a curious deer whose need for caution pales in the light of the comfort that surrounds it. From a dissonant rumbling from below, a wayfaring piano anoints us with slumber, pulling threads of pathos to harp-gilded crests and falls. A thorough and pervasive atmosphere wins out, hurling us into oblivion.

Rypdal swings from innocence to fortitude at the flick of a pick (or pen, as the case might be). Like the oceans of Solaris, his music is ethereal even as it feeds on our darkest fears.

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