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The Symphonic Suite »Cantabile«

Frederik Magle's symphonic suite Cantabile is comprised of three symphonic poems based on poems by H.R.H. Henrik, the Prince Consort of Denmark, from the poetry collection Cantabile. The symphonic poems can be performed individually or as movements en suite.

Cantabile premiere performance
The premiere performance in Koncerthuset, Copenhagen, June 10th 2009.

Symphony Orchestra, Choir and soloists: Soprano, Bass-baritone

Cantabile is scored for:

    Frederik Magle: Cortege & Danse Macabre full score, p.20
    3 Flutes (3rd doubling Piccolo), 2 Oboes (2nd doubling English Horn), 3 Clarinets (Bb), 1 Bass-Clarinet, 2 Bassoons, 1 Contra-Bassoon

    4 Horns (F), 3 Trumpets (3rd doubling Flugelhorn), 2 Trombones, 1 Bass-Trombone, 1 Contrabass Tuba,

    Timpani (4), 3 Percussionists; Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Suspended Cymbal, Clash Cymbals, Tam-Tam (Gong), Gong Kempur, Tubular Bells, 3 Tom-Toms, 2 Roto-Toms, Whip, Woodblock, Celesta, Marimba, A real thigh bone.

    Harp, Piano (obbligato, Carillon), Organ (Cortège & Danse Macabre and Carillon)

    Soprano (soloist, Souffle le vent and Carillon), Bass-Baritone (soloist), Mixed Choir (S,S,A,A,T,T,B,B)

    Strings (5-string Double-basses)


Souffle le Vent

The symphonic poem Souffle le vent - the first movement of the suite - was composed in 2003-2004 and is based on the poem Souffle le vent (Cry of the winds). Both the original version of the poem, in French, and a Danish translation by Per Aage Brandt are used - concurrently in some passages. For example; in a duet starting at bar 147 the soprano sings in French while the bass-baritone sings in Danish. The duration of Souffle le vent is approx. 13 ½ minutes.

The full text from Souffle le vent.

The main theme is introduced at bar 130, sung by the soprano soloist (Excerpt from the vocal score, click to see more/enlarge):

Cantabile main theme

  • Download MP3 excerpts from Souffle le vent

    Cortège & Danse Macabre

    The second movement, Cortège & Danse Macabre, was composed from 2005 to 2008 and is based on the poem Cortège funèbre, with the subtitle Danse Macabre (Funeral Procession and Dance of Death). Only the original French version is used. Duration: approx. 10 minutes.

    The full text from Cortège & Danse Macabre

    The Cortège & Danse Macabre begins with the "Cortège", followed by a "Danse Macabre" from bar 115, then returning to the Cortège at bar 202. The main theme of the Cortège is partly stated by the solo flute at the beginning (Click to enlarge):

    Cortege main theme

    The Danse Macabre part starts out in 7/8 with a solo for marimba accompanied by strings, pizzicato. The Danse macabre-theme is then introduced by the English Horn at bar 121 while the marimba continues, now as the accompanying part in duet (Click to enlarge):

    Cortege main theme

    At bar 141 an unusual instrument is heard; The thigh bone from a giraffe. The score does not specify that the bone must be a giraffe bone but only that is has to be a real thigh bone. Frederik Magle chose a giraffe bone for the premiere performance after spending a whole day trying out many different bones at the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen (Read more about the quest for the bone).

    The climax at the center of the Cortege & Danse Macabre marks the first entrance of the pipe organ in the suite (at bar 173).

  • Download MP3 and Lossless excerpts from Cortège & Danse Macabre

    Carillon - Finale (Lacrymae Mundi)

    The third and final movement of Cantabile; Carillon was composed in 2008-2009 and is based on the poems L'Angelus and Lacrymae mundi (Angelus and Tears of the World). Both the original versions, in French, and the Danish translation by Per Aage Brandt are used. Duration: approx. 8 ½ minutes.

    The full text from Carillon - Finale

    The Carillon is the only movement with piano but it plays a large role throughout the movement, including some soloistic passages (e.g. from bar 85).

    Towards the end, at bar 172, the basses of the choir are required to decent to contra-A (the A below the bass-clef), one of the deepest notes ever written for choir in a symphonic work (Click on the picture with the score detail to hear an excerpt (mp3). Bar 172 begins at 00:38):

    Deep basses

    At the very end of the movement (bar 227), the main theme from Souffle le vent is reprised leading up to the conclusion of the work with the full forces of the symphony orchestra and choir.

  • Download MP3 and Lossless excerpts from Carillon

    Premiere Performances

    "Souffle le vent" was premiered by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Thomas Dausgaard, with the soloists Sine Bundgaard (soprano) and Bo Anker Hansen (bass-baritone), on June 10th, 2004, in the Tivoli Concert Hall at the gala concert celebrating the 70th birthday of H.R.H. Henrik, The Prince Consort of Denmark.

    "Cort├Ęge & Danse Macabre" and "Carillon" were premiered five years later, once again by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard, on June 10th, 2009, in DR Koncerthuset (The Copenhagen Concert Hall). Soloists were Ina Kringlebotn and Erlend Tyrmi, and Frederik Magle himself on piano.

    Both premieres were broadcast in Danish television (DR TV) and radio.


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