Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Lappland-Metamorfoser (1957) 12.49
Impulsi (1964) 11.35
Echi (1965) 13.03
Ritmi (1966) 11.43
Oxberg-Variationer (1956) 17.26
Stockholm PO/Stig Westerberg
rec Stockholm Concert Hall, Jan-Sept 1977; 26 May 1960 (Oxberg)
Swedish Society

Clean, sharply delineated, folksy without kitsch and strongly rhythmic, von Koch's music has made small impact internationally. Time for reassessment.

Von Koch was born into a cultured family. Guests at his home included Rangstrom and Stenhammar. His father, Sigurd, was also a composer, and sadly he died when his son was only nine passing on to him his love of the sea, of music and of the Stockholm archipelago. Studies at the Stockholm Conservatory lead on to work with Claudio Arrau and writing music for Ingmar Bergman's early films.

These three pieces are a counterpart to the named orchestral works of William Mathias. They are each tone poems or orchestral studies. The approach is similar to the explosive energising music one finds in Uuno Klami's Kalevala Suite or even Copland's El Salon Mexico. There are traces of Stravinsky and Holmboe. The music 'feels' big and is often marked out by dance fragments stamping and flickering. The woodwind writing is notable for carrying the front-line interest. Too, however, Von Koch employs the percussion to dramatic effect as well as for colour. The music is refreshing and in no way cloying or prolix.

Impulsi, Echi and Ritmi are grouped as the Impulsi Trilogy. The predominance favours verve and virile life. There is a pronounced Hungarian element (Kodaly and Rozsa rather than Bartok) in the Lappland Metamorfoser and, up to a point, the Oxberg Variations (note some Hovhaness-like trombone 'slides'). This is less evident in Impulsi. In both Echi and Ritmi the xylophone is notable for goading the work on to new heights of excitement.

Anyone at all susceptible to Rozsa's Tripartita, Janacek's Sinfonietta, Moeran's Sinfonietta, Kodaly's Galanta and Hary Janos will have no difficulty with these works and will be delighted with the discovery. Notes are light on detail. Recording quality open and lively if marginally harsher in the Oxberg work. Recommended.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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