The music of Poul Ruders (b. 1949) has appeared on many labels, but the American company Bridge Records has taken a particular interest in his work: this is the 16th in their series. They have recorded his chamber music, symphonies, even operas. Among these recordings are two works involving the accordion: Serenade on the Shores of the Cosmic Ocean (for accordion and string quartet, heard in Vol. 6), and Songs and Rhapsodies (for accordion and wind quintet, in Vol. 7). A movement from the former work is titled “Dreamcatcher”, inspired by a Native American device that is believed to shield sleepers from bad dreams and only let in the good ones. It is a gentle, lyrical piece, which Bjarke Mortensen has arranged for solo accordion.
Ruders took the main theme as the basis for his Third Symphony, also named “Dreamcatcher”, expanding it to represent the broader context in which dreams abound. The symphony is in two movements, the first slow and ominous, the second a chaotic scherzo. Ruders’ orchestral writing is exciting and virtuosic; the performance under Scott Yoo very assured. (The symphony was recorded in 2012 and has appeared before, in Vol. 8 of the series.)
Sound and Simplicity, composed in 2018, is effectively an accordion concerto. While Ruders’ music can be complex he is not afraid of simplicity, and this work explores that balance. The opening movement is one of four deliberately simple movements (out of seven), a soundscape depicting the randomness of raindrops. Performances and sound are first rate.
Composer: Poul Ruders
Works: Sound and Simplicity, Dream Catcher, Symphony No 3
Performers: Bjarke Mortensen accordion, Odense Symphony Orchestra, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Scott Yoo.
Label: BRIDGE BRIDGE9553