Tourists of the future in Europe

This is Dacapo’s first post on the Naxos Blog: A short article written by Danish music journalist Jens Cornelius, who presents Danish contemporary composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s music on the Dacapo disc “Kronos plays Holmgreen” (6.220548) featuring the world famous American Kronos Quartet.

Cover image designed by Denise Burt  

Cover image designed for
Dacapo by Denise Burt

WE RECOGNIZE them right away – the Americans who drop in on Denmark as tourists for a day, two days or half a day. Wearing sunglasses, camera, short-sleeved shirts and with “Let’s Go Scandinavia” in their hands. And a slightly confused look – where is it that we are today?

IN THE MIDDLE of the nineteenth century the Danish national author Hans Christian Andersen predicted that the future would be just like that. “Young Americans” would come to Europe in steam-powered flying machines. They would inspect the remains of noble old Europe, the last ruins of a legendary culture. The only thing Andersen was mistaken about was the timescale – he called his prophetic tale “In a Thousand Years”.

Jeppe Gudmundsen-Holmgreen  

Photo: Jeppe Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

NOT A WORD AGAINST the American Kronos Quartet, who have made a great contribution to global understanding and a better world. But they ARE true-blooded Americans! And they even play with electric amplification! Their old Danish friend, the Danish composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen (b. 1932), exploits the Kronos Quartet’s unique qualities in three new works to be released on a CD from Dacapo later in the year. The big work is the “Concerto Grosso”, where the Baroque tradition is played out deep inside the jungle – the orchestra meets Kronos like a Dr. Livingstone. In the quartet work “Last Ground” Gudmundsen-Holmgreen challenges the potent Americans by asking them to play very quietly and in the end to be flooded out by the sea, which washes over the music on an electronic track. And in “Moving – Still” they are allowed to play hectic American guests in Europe, while the baritone Paul Hillier recites Andersen’s tale of the instamatic tourists of the future. Two worlds meet in a provocative and fruitful way.

Jens Cornelius