Per Nørgård

Paul Ruders

Works for Solo Cello

Wilhemina Smith, cello



Sleeve notes in English


January 2021

Catalogue No.:
ODE 1381-2


Track listing

CD 62:21
Per Nørgård (1932)
Sonata No. 1 for solo cello (1951–53) 16:23
1 I. Lento ma espansivo – Allegro non troppo 6:06
2 II. Tranquillo 5:52
3 III. Allegro con brio 4:25
Sonata No. 2, “In due tempi” for solo cello (1953–54/1980) 19:42
4 I. Solo intimo (Sonata, quasi una fantasia per cello, Op. 8) 10:51
5 II. Solo in scèna (1980) 8:51
Sonata No. 3, “What – is the Word!” for solo cello (1999) 7:30
6 I. Prayer I 2:20
7 II. Outcry 3:12
8 III. Prayer II 1:58
Poul Ruders (1949)
Bravourstudien (L’Homme Armé Variations) for solo cello (1976) 18:46
9 Overture 22:21
10 Recitative 1:09
11 Serenade 2:50
12 Potpourri 0:51
13 Etude 1:25
14 Intermezzo 1:37
15 Fantasia 1:28
16 Serenade 2 3:24
17 Finale: Variation classique 2:50
18 L’Homme armé 0:51

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Complete description

Cellist Wilhelmina Smith’s second album on Ondine continues exploring contemporary Nordic repertoire for solo cello. In her new album Smith has focus on Danish contemporary composers, Per Nørgård (b. 1932) and Poul Ruders (b. 1949).


Both Nørgård and Ruders are known for their large-scale orchestral works. Nørgård, in particular, is known for his eight symphonies and has been hailed by many as one of the greatest living symphonists. It is therefore intriguing to look closer to his two very early lyrical solo cello sonatas, early masterpieces written just before completing his 1st Symphony. In 1980, the composer revised his second sonata by adding an extensive second movement, almost an entirely new sonata, to the existing work. Nørgård’s 3rd sonata “What – Is the Word!” from 1999 is a short “Sonata breve” that takes its title from a quote by Irish playwriter Samuel Beckett.


Another major Danish composer of our times, Poul Ruders (b. 1949), has also written 5 symphonies alongside several concertos and three operas. Ruders wrote his 10-movement Bravourstudien in 1976, just at the brink of a major stylistic change. This work is a set of variations on a Medieval folk tune “L’homme armé”. In this work, however, the original theme is heard at the very end of the work.


Wilhelmina Smith is an artist of intense commitment, poetic insight and dazzling versatility. As a soloist and recitalist as well as a collaborative musician and festival director, Smith has consistently advocated for composers with whom she has developed vital relationships, to have their music creatively positioned within an intellectually engaging context and performed with the utmost passion and technical assurance. She made her solo debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra while a student at the Curtis Institute of Music and in 1997 was a prizewinner in the Leonard Rose International Cello Competition. Smith was awarded a 2015–2016 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Performing Musicians. She has been a guest artist with the Philadelphia and Boston Chamber Music Societies, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and is a founding member of Music from Copland House. She has performed regularly in festivals such as the Marlboro Music Festival and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. In 2005, she formed the Variation String Trio with violinist Jennifer Koh and violist Hsin-Yun Huang, a group that has performed across the US and Europe, and in 2012 formed a piano trio with pianist Lydia Artymiw and violinist Erin Keefe. Smith is also the founder and Artistic Director of Salt Bay Chamberfest; a festival that has been home to performers and composers of international renown for over two decades.