Hyperion Records

Morgenstemming 'Morning Mood'

The title and size of Morgenstemming (‘Morning Mood’) suggested another symphonic poem about nature in the mould of Mythe der lente. However, the concert programme for the premiere suggests a much more abstract intention: ‘This piece comprises the lyrical outpourings of a man who loves nature and who derives inspiration and a zest for life from nature’s pure sources. But nature also arouses a silent inner prayer to the Almighty, the Creator of beauty.’ Mortelmans had learnt his lesson: instead of coercing the listener’s fantasy, he gave full rein to his pantheistic feeling for life, speaking ‘the language of the inexplicable’.

In Morgenstemming, Mortelmans greets the morning with a somewhat naive horn signal, which is answered by murmuring strings. The light of these first rays of sun can still be recognized as stemming from Wagner although there are also interesting parallels to be drawn with the first generation of composers of the ‘English musical renaissance’. Wagnerian mood scenes are not always what one needs first thing in the morning, but Mortelmans knows how to restrain himself. The music opens out, apparently suggesting the culmination of sunrise. Then follows a compelling melody (including an acceleration at the end of the phrase, so typical of Flemish music) and a variation on the arrival of dawn heard earlier. Mortelmans is not the type to stretch dawn throughout a whole composition in the style of Grieg. Instead, he proceeds to take old and new material and creates a platform for allowing resignation and exuberance to alternate with each other. It is as if Mortelmans’ inward thoughts offer a serene alternative to the virulent luxury of nature. This introspective contemplation finally gets the last word, although Mortelmans nevertheless includes one more sudden, dramatic flare-up in the closing bars.

from notes by Tom Janssens © 2009
English: Christine Davies

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