Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

Violin Concerto (1952)
Violin Concertino (1952)
Trombone Concertino (1955)
Double Bass Concertino (1957)
Oboe Concertino (1944)
Leo Berlin (violin)
Christer Torge (trombone)
Luigi Ossoinak (double bass)
Alf Nilsson (oboe)
Stockholm PO/Stig Westerberg (violin works)
Orebro Kammarorkester/Lennart Hedwall (trombone)
Filharmonins Kammarensemble (double bass and Soderlundh)
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Larsson's standing is popular classical music is founded on the Pastoral Suite in much the same sense as Wiren's public profile is reliant on his Serenade for Strings.

Larsson is a much richer and more variegated composer than his one 'hit' would imply. This disc should help put that right. It collects reissues from the Swedish Society back catalogue and repackages them most generously with Soderlundh's oboe concerto.

The Violin Concerto premiered by Gertler has been more consistently championed by Leo Berlin the soloist here. It is a work that breathes romance. From its breathing opening ostinato to the thunderous fantasy of the finale it proclaims its heritage tracing to the Tchaikovsky, the Sibelius (many reminders) and the concerto by William Walton. Its gentle dissonances echo Frankel but do not detract from its grown-up accessibility. A most heart-warming work to be counted with Prokofiev No. 2, the Barber and the Menotti.

The Concertino is one of 12 such works each for different instruments and all recorded on Bis. The Concertino is more classical-modern: earnest without being dour, the second uses a touching folksong, and finally dashing and neo-classically busy with suggestions of Britten's Simple Symphony.

The braying joker serenades the world in the trombone work. Avoiding dryness the work is a virtuoso piece for the soloist (true of all the concertinos) while the orchestral parts are accessible to good amateur orchestras. Malcolm Arnold might easily have had a hand in the last movement. It has that devil-may-care confidence and cheekiness! In fact Arnold's own succinct concertos are cousins to Larsson's dozen concertinos.

The Double Bass Concerto taping sounds older than the trombone recording: 1973 and 1965 respectively. This shows especially in the conductor-less strings of the chamber ensemble. The first movement is busily jabbering finding some slight sense of repose in the very fine anxiety-touched Arioso. The finale is less well rounded.

Soderlundh wrote many songs and ballads but less well known is his orchestral output. The oboe concerto is an easy winner, succulent, singing, smiling and serene. Come on classical music radio stations: give this lovely work an airing alongside the equally fancied Arnold concerto. Nilsson is a good soloist although his lever clicking accompaniment can be a minor distraction.

Notes are brief but to the point and the whole concept is compelling. Very highly recommended for the violin concerto and the oboe concerto.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

Reviews from previous months

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