Such was the spontaneous reaction of the Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim upon hearing a work by Bent Sørensen. And it is not easy to imagine a more strangely to-the-point description of the ambiguous, almost paradoxical expressive idiom of this unique composer, who is without doubt the leading Danish composer of his generation.
Sørensen’s music is not recycled; in no way does it rely on the yellowing pages of history for its musical nourishment. His musical language is undeniably of the present day, both aesthetically and technically. The music does, however, appear to be pervaded with memories, wisdom of experience and old dreams, of the inevitability of transitoriness and parting. It is a flickering, glittering world where things seem to disappear at the slightest touch.
Bent Sørensen was born in 1958, and received his musical education from, amongst others, Per Nørgård and Ib Nørholm. His originality, imagination and technical abilities were praised long before his major breakthrough in the mid-80s. And the first string quartet Alman (1984) along with the other three quartets, Adieu (1986), Angels’ Music (1988), and Schrie und Melancholie(1994), are still considered among Sørensen’s most important works.
The vastly productive 1990s were dominated by large-scale orchestral works. The major vocal works The Echoing Garden(1992) for soloists, choir and orchestra unfolds as wandering weightless melodies in an echo chamber of many different simultaneous tempi. The violin concerto Sterbende Gärten (1993) – a concerto in the grand tradition, dramatic, graceful, and wild; the Symphony (1996); and the piano concerto La Notte (1998) are surrounded by several major ensemble pieces scored for a variety of forces; for instance, the enchanting concerto Birds and Bells for trombone and 14 instruments (1995) written for Christian Lindberg.