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Christer LINDWALL (b. 1950)

A Certain Ratio (1998-99) [11:41]
Stefan Österjö (guitar), Quartetto Ars Nova
Earth Bow (1996) [9:47]
Ensemble SON
En millemeter av ljus (1996-97) [11:47]
Ensemble Ars Nova
Wenn sie so, dann ich so und Pferd fliegt (2000) [17:01]
Kulchural Archipelagos Quintet
White Nights (2000-02) [23:57]
Stefan Österjö (alto guitar), The Gageego! Ensemble/Pierre-André Valade
rec. Rosenbergssalen, Musikhögskolan, Malmö, 14 March 2004 (1), Studio 3, Radiohuset, 7-8 June 2004 (2), Helsingborg Concert Hall, 10 September 2004 (4), TV4 Studio, Göteborg, 25-26 January 2005 (5), SR studio 7, Radiohuset, Malmö, 21 October 1997 (3).

The most revealing sentence in the programme book is not to be found in Stefan Österjö’s essay on what might be understood by the word ‘Rhizome’. In the biography section, it states that ‘Lindwall has been called the foremost representative of the "neo-complex" school in Sweden.’ To cynics this means ‘squeaky-gate’ music, and for those appalled by apparent atonal meandering sugared with a garland of intellectual posturing, you have my permission to leave the room and have a nice time in the pub.

FX. Chairs slide back, falling and scattering with haste; footfalls; door slams.

I’m the only one left? Rotten lot.

Christer Lindwall has nothing to say on the subject of his work in the booklet notes, and as previously mentioned, the contents are described and commented on by one of his champions, the guitarist Stefan Österjö. Lindwall’s biography confesses to a ‘contact with jazz while still a teenager’, and little touches suggest that these influences stir not so far under the surface. A Certain Ratio has nothing to do with the pop group of the same name. It does however present the string quartet in a raw accompaniment of glissandi and hacking clusters (prime Arditti territory), and has the guitarist scribbling sounds into the air with ‘a choreography of movements over the fingerboard of the instrument, a complex interplay between motion in different dimensions such as tonal color, pitch, density, and viable transit.’

"In other words, unplayable…"

Hey, I thought you guys had gone to the pub?!

"Yes, we were going to go, but we felt sorry for you and wanted to see you suffer at the same time."

Rotten lot; ignore and persevere. Earth Bow is ‘music in the no-man’s-land between serial construction and intuitive sonorous composition.’ Some of the sounds and textures, aided by an electric guitar, trumpet and saxophone, seem to hark back a little to what you might find on a free improvised jazz album. What you will make of it depends entirely on your own attitude and response. I can’t help imagining the hilarity which would ensue if it were to have been performed at a Hoffnung concert – such are the ‘modern music’ stereotypical gestures which are the overriding impression.

Silence. I think they’ve really gone now – can’t blame them ...

En millimetre av ljus (One Millimeter of Light) is for guitar and six instruments, and is ‘the logical ending point for a body of work that had its foundation in a figure of thought that consumed the composer for much of the 1990s, namely, the dissolution of logical progression.’ There seems to be some kind of compression or limiting going on with the recording of the guitar here. Remember playing those old dbx noise reduction tapes played back without the dbx switched on? Anyway, ‘"En Millimetre av ljus" is the title work of an unpublished poetry collection by the writer Torbjörn Dahlander, and the title is the only part of the poem known to the composer ...’

"We’ve brought you back some beer."

Oh great! Thanks, I need it – wait there, I’m nearly finished…

Wenn sie so, dann ich so und Pferd fliegt is a quote from Vladimir Nabokov’s novel ‘Pnin’. It begins with plucked bass, and has that piano, electric guitar and muted trumpet thing going on which brings me back to that improvised jazz feel. The timbres here are for me among the most interesting on the CD, with nicely orchestrated tuned percussion, and restrained and atmospheric moments giving the impression of musicians actually listening to each other, rather than performing written notes.

The final piece, White Nights is for alto guitar and chamber orchestra. The title alludes to ‘sleeplessness and nightly watches’ rather than any literary reference, and with the guitar serving a ‘hidden governing role’ rather than at the forefront as in a conventional concerto, there are some interesting things going on. As the chronology goes, at least it can be said that Lindwall’s work is developing and, to my ears, improving. The larger ensemble, with harp and piano sonorities and a brass, percussion and woodwind ripieno suit Lindwall’s language, giving it increased depth and range. Longer periods of introversion allow the sonorities to develop, and I like Lindwall’s wide-spread chord technique. ‘Slowly emerging structures’ account for the extended duration of this piece, which has almost enough to say for itself to prevent it outstaying its welcome.

I believe the Phono Suecia website has sound clips, so – try before you buy. I’m off down the pub ...

Dominy Clements



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