Ruders: Symphony No 5

Reviewed on Wed 08 Feb, 2017

The focus on a small group of recurring themes ensures coherence, but the intuitive structuring, combined with fixed tempos over long stretches, reduces the developmental potential.

This release is the 10th in Bridge Classics’ ongoing series devoted to Poul Ruders, a valuable project showcasing a distinctive and adventurous voice. The Fifth Symphony dates from 2012-13, and was premiered by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, heard here. The three-movement work lasts only 26 minutes, so this is a short CD. The focus on a small group of recurring themes ensures coherence, but the intuitive structuring, combined with fixed tempos over long stretches, reduces the developmental potential. The first movement is the strongest, and Ruders here uses string glissandos and non-standard percussion to good effect. The lyrical second movement is characterised by nebulous, quiet cluster sonorities. The third introduces dance rhythms beneath the austere and sometimes imposing orchestral textures, but it lacks direction and ends abruptly. A fascinating listening experience, though, and a welcome update on the work of Denmark’s leading composer. The performance is committed and precise, and the audio suitably involving.
–Gavin Dixon