Modern Norwegian orchestral works
Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra op. 27
The composer employs a large orchestra which includes English horn, bass clarinet, contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones and tuba. The work opens with a sustained chord played by violins, violas and flutes, which contains the first six notes of a twelve-tone row. In the third measure, this row, which form the basis of the whole work is played by the piano in its entirety.
The piano then elaborates on the row using serial techniques, as new instruments add successive tones from the original row to the sustained chored. As the work unfolds, an adherence to dodecaphonic principles in their strictest sense is not attempted. Rather, characteristic melodic and rhythmic motives, derived from the initial presentation of the material, are utilizied to unify the work.
Per Orchestra op. 30
”Per Orchestra employs a free twelve-tone technique not based on a set row of twelve tones” explains Mortensen, ”but in which twelve-tone meloses have an important function. Concealed behind a dynamic form with two tensions and one dynamic climax (just about on the demarcation line of the Golden Section) is a sonata form with a main theme (augmented octave) and a second theme precedes the main theme, The title is designed to ensure that the listener`s approach to the music is as unhampered as possible by preconceived ideas”.
Fantasy and Fugue for Piano op. 13 (1957-58)
The music describes a ’historical’ development from Schönbergs atonal expressionism from around 1910, through fairly strict twelve-tone technique to a Stockhausen -inspired serial pointillism in the fugue. Fantasy and Fugue for Piano belongs to the best works written for piano in post-war Norway.
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra op. 25, (1963)
The concerto is in one movement, clearly divided into three parts. The first section is distinguished by block sounds in the orchestra juxtaposed to sudden, rapid passages on the piano. Dynamics and rhythm constantly change. The second section, which is virtually static, is in complete contrast to the first: the dynamics are ppp throughout, and the piano parts consists mainly of triplet movements over cluster chords in the strings. The third and final section, like the first, is characterized by violent changes and dynamics outbursts.
Study I and V are from Five Studies for Solo Flute op. 11. These small pieces display Mortensen´s intimate knowledge of the flute´s distinctive character. Written in 1957, they belong to the transitional stage between the composer´s neoclassical and serial periods.