Author Topic: Ruders' Gong  (Read 6988 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Ruders' Gong
« on: May 28, 2012, 07:16:06 AM »


Poul Ruders is generally considered the foremost Danish composer of the postwar generation, having forged a solid reputation as an eclectic willing to use a variety of techniques and styles. In his works he has incorporated features of minimalism, Medieval and Renaissance-era styles, popular music sources, various tonal and atonal elements, and has even developed a system of shaping and organizing pitch.

Ruders sang in the Copenhagen Boys' Choir as a child and later enrolled at the Odense Conservatory where he studied keyboard. He was awarded a degree in 1975 from the Royal Danish Conservatory in organ and had limited private studies in composition with Ib Nørholm and Kar Rasmussen. Ruders himself has asserted that he is largely self-taught in the area of composition and his claim appears largely justified. His earliest surviving works (he has withdrawn several from his early years) are Three Letters from the Unknown Soldier, for solo piano, dating to 1967, and Requiem, for solo organ, from 1968.

In the mid-1970s Ruders began to draw on earlier music styles for some of his compositions: Medieval Variations (1974), for chamber ensemble, and the Violin Concerto No. 1 (1981), which incorporates quotations from Vivaldi and Schubert, exhibit this trait. Though Ruders served as an organist at churches in the 1970s and did freelance work as a pianist and organist as well, he has relied chiefly on composition as his source of income for most of his career. Indeed--he had begun receiving substantial commissions for large works like his 1982 ballet, Manhattan Abstraction, and his first opera, Tycho (1986).

In 1991 Ruders relocated to London, where he lived for the next three years. During this time he accepted a guest professorship at Yale University and turned out most of the three parts to one of his most popular and highly praised orchestral works, Solar Triology (1992-95). He returned to Copenhagen in 1994, where he completed the final panel of this work, Corona.

His Symphony No. 2 (1995-96) dates to this period, and his second opera followed shortly afterward, The Handmaid's Tale (1997-98), which was premiered in Copenhagen in 2000. In the new century Ruders continues to turn out music in various genres. His third opera, Kafka's Trial, was premiered in March, 2005, at the Royal Danish Opera's new opera house in Copenhagen.

[Article taken from All Music Guide]

I saw no thread dedicated to Ruders so I figured it was high time I started one. What do you guys think about his music? Any particular favorites? I was mesmerized this morning when listening to Gong from his Solar Trilogy. What an angry Xenakis meets solar explosion! 8) If anybody can think of a better thread title then let me know. I'm open to suggestions. :)
« Last Edit: September 19, 2017, 07:41:47 AM by Mirror Image »
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2012, 09:53:29 AM »
The Solar Trilogy, particularly Gong and Zenith, and the Concerto in Pieces are my favorite pieces by Ruders. Gong is just an all out sonic explosion that pulls you in and doesn't let you go. I think the dedicatée, who was Messiaen, would have been proud to hear the work. Zenith is perhaps one of the best slow movements in modern music, and the expansiveness and strange timbres remind me of the vastness of outer space. There's a passage for tubular bells dipped in water that sends chills down your spine. The Concerto in Pieces was composed as a sort of 'updated version' of Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, and it does  a good job of showing off the 'modernist' orchestra. It's a lot of fun and is a perfect piece for anyone who is new to Ruders' music.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2012, 10:02:52 AM »
The Solar Trilogy, particularly Gong and Zenith, and the Concerto in Pieces are my favorite pieces by Ruders. Gong is just an all out sonic explosion that pulls you in and doesn't let you go. I think the dedicatée, who was Messiaen, would have been proud to hear the work. Zenith is perhaps one of the best slow movements in modern music, and the expansiveness and strange timbres remind me of the vastness of outer space. There's a passage for tubular bells dipped in water that sends chills down your spine. The Concerto in Pieces was composed as a sort of 'updated version' of Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, and it does  a good job of showing off the 'modernist' orchestra. It's a lot of fun and is a perfect piece for anyone who is new to Ruders' music.

Agree with you about Gong. What an aural assault! I listened to Nightshade earlier this morning as well. What a cool, textural work. What recordings do you own? These are the ones I bought today:











« Last Edit: May 28, 2012, 10:04:24 AM by Mirror Image »
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2012, 10:40:57 AM »
I have all of those recordings, plus the 7 volumes of the Bridge series, plus some other odds and ends. A particular favorite is that Concertos disk on Dacapo. I mentioned the Concerto in Pieces, but I also love Monodrama. The First Violin Concerto is great, too.
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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2012, 10:58:03 AM »
The 'Tranquillo molto' from the Symphony is beautiful.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline lescamil

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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2012, 12:40:13 PM »
Poul Ruders has 4 symphonies now. The strongest one to me is the 4th symphony, which has a significant organ part (not quite an organ concerto). I haven't quite figured out the first two symphonies yet. I also haven't heard the 3rd symphony enough times to judge. The 4th symphony is similar to the Concerto in Pieces, in that it shows off just how variable his style is, which I really enjoy.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2012, 01:58:14 PM »
I have all of those recordings, plus the 7 volumes of the Bridge series, plus some other odds and ends. A particular favorite is that Concertos disk on Dacapo. I mentioned the Concerto in Pieces, but I also love Monodrama. The First Violin Concerto is great, too.

I'm just really anxious to hear all of the recordings I bought. It will be nice to have two performances of Gong. :) I've already listened to some of the Solar Trilogy from NML and I'm impressed with Zenith. I didn't get to listen to Corona. My time ran out. :P I'm hoping I found a Danish Modernist I can stand behind.
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2012, 05:10:15 PM »
Corona is the least satisfying of Solar Trilogy, but the ending makes it all worth it. Gong and Zenith set the bar extremely high, unfortunately, though.

I have just placed my order for Volume 8 of the Bridge series. It contains the Offred Suite (taken from the opera The Handmaid's Tale), Tundra, and the Symphony No. 3. Really looking forward to the Offred Suite.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2012, 05:17:27 PM by lescamil »
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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2012, 05:47:56 PM »
Corona is the least satisfying of Solar Trilogy, but the ending makes it all worth it. Gong and Zenith set the bar extremely high, unfortunately, though.

I have just placed my order for Volume 8 of the Bridge series. It contains the Offred Suite (taken from the opera The Handmaid's Tale), Tundra, and the Symphony No. 3. Really looking forward to the Offred Suite.

If you could do any comparisons with other composers, what composers would you say Ruders sounds similar to?
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2012, 06:44:25 PM »
That's one of the neat things about Ruders. He sounds like no one. I would say that in large part comes from him being a primarily self-taught composer. From what I've read, all he has had were some orchestration lessons. Yeah, you can hear things like Xenakis in Gong, but, really, he is his own man.
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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2012, 06:49:32 PM »
That's one of the neat things about Ruders. He sounds like no one. I would say that in large part comes from him being a primarily self-taught composer. From what I've read, all he has had were some orchestration lessons. Yeah, you can hear things like Xenakis in Gong, but, really, he is his own man.

He's certainly a fascinating composer that I look forward to exploring.
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Offline some guy

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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2012, 08:17:01 PM »
I'm hoping I found a Danish Modernist I can stand behind.
So that's why he keeps looking over his shoulder....

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2012, 08:28:48 PM »
So that's why he keeps looking over his shoulder....

::) :P
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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2012, 06:39:33 AM »
Tee hee.

But seriously, everyone who's listened to both recordings of Gong, which do you prefer?

Offline edward

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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2012, 06:58:46 AM »
That's one of the neat things about Ruders. He sounds like no one. I would say that in large part comes from him being a primarily self-taught composer. From what I've read, all he has had were some orchestration lessons. Yeah, you can hear things like Xenakis in Gong, but, really, he is his own man.
Agreed very much; Ruders is one of those composers whose style can't be pinned down; and his sound changes quite a bit from work to work.

I think the most obvious point of stylistic reference is simply that a lot of Danish composers born in the '30s through the '50s seem to be breathing the same compositional air: I hear clear stylistic parallels at times to Abrahamsen and his orchestration teacher Rasmussen (and, most obviously, Norgard); on the other hand there seem to be much fewer to Gudmundsen-Holmgreen or to Sorensen. Beyond that, in Ruders' appropriation of minimalist tropes there are clear echoes of (in my opinion) Reich in particular, while there certainly are parallels to Xenakis in his more eruptive writing. (It might be an odd thing to say, but I think there's something of Robert Simpson in Ruders' more architectonic structures.)

I've often had a somewhat ambivalent reaction to Ruders' work, and haven't seen or heard any of his operas--obviously a very important part of his output--but the Solar Trilogy is of course hugely impressive. I also very much like the Second Symphony (haven't heard the other three), which shares with the Solar Trilogy the ability to pack a huge amount of change into a continuous structural arc.

... another composer I need to go back and spend more time with ... there's too many of them ...
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 07:08:50 AM by edward »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2012, 10:22:05 AM »
Agreed very much; Ruders is one of those composers whose style can't be pinned down; and his sound changes quite a bit from work to work.

I think the most obvious point of stylistic reference is simply that a lot of Danish composers born in the '30s through the '50s seem to be breathing the same compositional air: I hear clear stylistic parallels at times to Abrahamsen and his orchestration teacher Rasmussen (and, most obviously, Norgard); on the other hand there seem to be much fewer to Gudmundsen-Holmgreen or to Sorensen. Beyond that, in Ruders' appropriation of minimalist tropes there are clear echoes of (in my opinion) Reich in particular, while there certainly are parallels to Xenakis in his more eruptive writing. (It might be an odd thing to say, but I think there's something of Robert Simpson in Ruders' more architectonic structures.)

I've often had a somewhat ambivalent reaction to Ruders' work, and haven't seen or heard any of his operas--obviously a very important part of his output--but the Solar Trilogy is of course hugely impressive. I also very much like the Second Symphony (haven't heard the other three), which shares with the Solar Trilogy the ability to pack a huge amount of change into a continuous structural arc.

... another composer I need to go back and spend more time with ... there's too many of them ...

Well you pretty much have summed up what has already been stated before: Ruders' music defies categorization.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline lescamil

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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2012, 11:16:03 AM »
Aw nuts, looks like I won't be getting Bridge Volume 8 for a while. Got this in my email this morning from Rob Starobin (who I assume is David's brother):

Quote
Thank you for your order of BRIDGE 9382 - Music of Poul Ruders, Vol. 8. This disc was mistakenly not listed as pre-release, but will be available in early July. We will keep your order on file until it is available, and ship it immediately.

Looks like they jumped the gun and put the "add to cart" button there too early.
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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2012, 02:53:34 PM »
Looks like they jumped the gun and put the "add to cart" button there too early.

When you say "they," who are you referring to?
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2012, 07:09:06 PM »
When you say "they," who are you referring to?

The Bridge Records website, who I tried to order the disk directly from, since it isn't on Amazon or any of the other usual suspects.
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Re: Ruders' Gong
« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2012, 08:36:29 PM »
The Bridge Records website, who I tried to order the disk directly from, since it isn't on Amazon or any of the other usual suspects.

Ah, oh well, you've got plenty of Ruders to listen to for now. :)
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy