Bent Sørensen (*1958, DAN): Looking on Darkness (2000)

Bent Sørensen, one of the most frequently performed contemporary Scandinavian composers, has taken the title, ‘Looking on Darkness’, from Shakespeare’s Sonnet No 27.

The thematic and intellectually clearly constructed form in which the inherent emotion is centrally placed, and which characterizes the sonnet, also forms the basis of Sørensen’s composition.

After a long day’s work the speaker of the sonnet from which the title of the work is taken lies looking out into the darkness; the memory of his beloved appears on his retina like a jewel in the night, but at the same time the sleepless one is restless at seeing the much missed beloved so clearly, and, just as in Shakespeare’s sonnet, the past, memory, arises in Sørensen’s music as it were out of nothing, out of the darkness, the silence; the concrete rattle of the accordion buttons and the sensitive dripping notes in the opening section vibrate on the borderline between the concrete and the hereafter.

Loss and mourning for that which is lost and will never come again, flow into the fleeting and poetic tones and meld together; the music oscillates, lingers, holds tightly to the absence, slackens its grip, tries again, does not say: hear me, but moves carefully onwards with itself like the fragmentary memories in Samuel Beckett’s late prose, before the sorrowful voice of the piece, just as beautiful and unobtrusive, withdraws again and leaves us to the silence, to what used to be.

Erland Kiøsterud