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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

TrioMats Tribute: Contemporary Swedish Piano Trios
Anders NILSSON (b.1954) Piano Trio (1998)
Sven-David SANDSTRÖM (b.1942) Fantasia (1989)
Johann JEVERUD (b.1962) Chamber Music Chapter 2 (1990)
Gösta F HANSSON (b.1957) Tribute (2002)
Mats Widlund; Mats Rondin, Mats Zetterqvist
Recorded in Berwaldhallen, Jan 2001 and Swedish Radio S2 Feb 2002
DAPHNE 1015 [58.01]
Daphne

 

This disc is a follow-up from TrioMats’ first CD of works by Beethoven, Shostakovich and Ravel (Daphne 1016) and how enterprising to devote it to four contemporary Swedish compositions. This is the sort of enterprise, which is so prevalent in Scandinavia. It deserves our applause. It is the more unfortunate therefore that I can’t be a little more enthusiastic about the music. I must immediately say that the three Mats are wonderful musicians, with a fantastic sense of ensemble. Superb quality tone and a very fine recording are also important. In a word they are supremely committed and especially to this music which they play with passionate belief.

The first work is in my view the most original and entertaining on the disc, that is the trio of Nilsson. The opening ‘Foxtrot’ is like no other you will ever meet but it is bright and rhythmic. It is followed by a ‘Habanera’. They makes some attempt at the typical dotted crotchet rhythm and a closing, exciting Rondo. The music has an inner life and vitality which is most appealing.

In the anonymous booklet notes Sandström writes that his Fantasia was "strongly influenced by the tonal language of Brahms – massively flowing music, based on what is often a ponderously chordal piano part." I first came across Sandström in the 1970s with some avant-garde works which I felt demonstrated a composer who had nothing in particular to say. With this Fantasia I still l feel that he has nothing to say, except that now he takes longer to say it. There will undoubtedly be those listeners for whom the rich and quasi-emotional landscape of this work has an appeal, but if Sandström could have learned something from Brahms, it would have been that form and structure are the crucial aspect of his art not the heart-on-sleeve, vacuous meanderings we are served up here. At 23 minutes it is the longest work on the disc.

Jeverud’s ‘Chamber Music chapter 2’, which was premiered by the TrioMats, is in three movements: a short Introduction, then a movement called ‘Play’ which reminded me of the sprung rhythms of Michael Tippett, especially the Triple Concerto and the early quartets. The third movement ‘Resonance’ is a contrast and explores sonority especially in its piano writing.

Gösta Hansson’s ‘Tribute’, which gives the disc its name, was written for the TrioMats. It is too diffuse to make much of a point in its eight minutes, and lacks ideas of any real interest although its lyrical opening, reminiscent of Shostakovich, has much unfulfilled promise.

My advice is, keep a good look out for these superb young musicians.

Gary Higginson


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