Frederik Magle’s Pastorale for piano is drawn from an improvisation performed on October 6th, 2019, at Saint Paul’s church in Copenhagen to mark the inauguration of the church’s new Steinway concert grand. It takes as its basis Johan Henrik Nebelong’s melody for the autumn hymn Nu falmer skoven trindt om land (Now the forest fades around the land). The hymn’s text (by Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig) is predominantly a pastoral one – one that acknowledges God’s blessing upon humanity for the wonders of nature, undoubtedly, but also one that is content to marvel at the natural world itself, in both its beauty and its toil.
This contemplative, awestruck mood is strikingly captured in Frederik Magle’s improvisation on the hymn’s tune. Beginning with a pulsing pedal tone, the first strains of the melody ring out over a simple undulating harmony, before gradually unfolding into a rich, harmonious texture reaching the very depths of the piano. The pulsing tones become the vehicle for lush romantic harmonies that underpin melodic fragments explored in all registers of the piano, before we return to a gentle, contented quietude that settles once again.
–Acorus Calamus, editor
DURATION: ca. 4 minutes