The first ideas for this piece came to me during a train journey through Denmark. It was summer and I was looking out of the window; I heard some fast jig-like dance rhythms. These appear early in the work – hushed and hidden like almost all the music, apart from the roaring horns in the beginning! As is always the case for me, the title was there at once – and as always it is difficult for me to explain it!
The work is filled with little songs and fragments of melodies – some of them distinct, most of them hidden – but whether they have ended up becoming particularly sinful, I don’t know. The musicians are positioned in a circle around the audience, so the music will not sound the same at any two different points in the hall. The music moves at varying speeds both around the circle, and backwards and forwards between different instrumental groupings.
Sinful Songs was commissioned by and dedicated to Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
In this fascinating piece [Bent Sørensen] has his audience surrounded on three sides by cori spezzati of carefully selected instruments, two of the groups mirroring each other, several instrumentalists also playing bells. On the fourth side is the director…. the effect is …one of fleeting evanescence born of the luminosity of Nordic landscapes and hauntingly flickering around the galleried heights of this jewel of a hall.
The Birmingham Post
First performed by BCMG conducted by Sakari Oramo at CBSO Centre, Birmingham on 15 January 1999.