Hear the Piece That Won One of Music’s Biggest Prizes

By Zachary Woolfe – nytimes.

Bent Sorensen, a Danish composer known for trembling, glistening works that have drawn comparisons to the paintings of Georges Seurat, has won the 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his triple concerto “L’Isola della Città.”

Presented by the University of Louisville in Kentucky, the Grawemeyer is one of contemporary music’s most prestigious prizes, and comes with a $100,000 award. In Mr. Sorensen, 59, it has gone to a creator of works of hushed drama, full of sliding, drooping, flickering motifs that conjure ghostly, nocturnal worlds of disintegration and melancholy, also evoked by titles like “The Weeping White Room,” “The Deserted Churchyards” and “This Night of No Moon.”


“L’Isola della Città,” movements 1 and 2
Credit: Video by trioconbriocph

Written for the Danish ensemble Trio con Brio and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, which gave its premiere last year, “L’Isola della Città” (“The Island in the City”) unfolds over nearly half an hour in five continuous movements. Stealthy and subtle, its central threesome of soloists — piano, violin and cello, as in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto — finds oases of calm amid flares of intensity from the orchestra.


“L’Isola della Città,” movements 3, 4 and 5
Credit: Video by trioconbriocph

“In all five movements,” Mr. Sorensen said in a statement, “the ‘island’ (the trio) tries to escape the shadows of the orchestra. This is most evident in the last movement, in which the trio, ever so silently and without attracting any attention, simply glides away from the orchestra’s noisy shadows.”