Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


in UK: Discovery Records.
phone: 01380 728000; fax 01380 722244.

Gunnar de FRUMERIE (1908-1987)
Cello Concerto (1984) [24.20]
Violin Concerto (1936, rev. 1975-6) [26.00]
Symphonic Variations (1940-41) [16.38]
Mats Lidström (cello)
Tobias Ringborg (violin)
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra/Lü Jia
rec. 3-5 May 2000, Louis de Geer Concert Hall, Norrköping. DDD
CAPRICE CAP 21644 [66.58]

It has been a while since we last heard from Caprice. I had been wondering if they were still in the business. This disc puts such dismal speculation to flight. The only puzzle is the 2001 (p) and © year. It has taken a long time to surface beyond Sweden.

Gunnar de Frumerie's music proclaims a Swedish late-romantic. When in emphatic mode it sounds somewhat like Nielsen. At other times he sounds like late-1940s Alwyn or early Lennox Berkeley as in the case of Berkeley's Cello Concerto and the extraordinarily powerful Nocturne for orchestra.

On this disc two concertos partner a set of Symphonic Variations. As you may deduce from the timings of these works de Frumerie was not given to prolixity.

In the lovely, haunting and dignified Cello Concerto, de Frumerie has produced a work with, no doubt unconscious, links to the Bax and Moeran cello concertos. The element of mercurial fantasy is strong in the central andante with its theme and variations. The folk graces of this work are many and memorable - for example the repeated quiet but telling cor anglais call at the start of the finale. The Cello Concerto began life as the Cello Sonata No. 2 (1949) and was premiered as a Concerto in 1985. It also exists as a Trombone Concerto, written for Christian Lindberg (who else?), and was the composer's last completed work in 1987.

The 1936 Violin Concerto is even more succulently expressive of an idyllic and idealised countryside vision. This is part Delius, part Nielsen, a touch of Vaughan Williams' Lark Ascending and even a hint of Miklós Rózsa. The ambling introspective andante rises to a climactic slow statement (tr.5 5.43) which has the weighty emotionalism of a Rubbra symphony. The finale is more agitated, even hysterical, with moments of equilibrium restored by recollections of the first two movements.

The Symphonic Variations take as their subject the folk song Varvindar friska leka och viska (Fresh spring breezes whisper and play). These variations manage to shuffle off the contrived flavour that is the norm for this format. The progress sounds spontaneous and always fresh. The snarling trombone glissandi in the L'istesso tempo variant adds some delicious humour to the proceedings. The andantino (tr. 15) has some Nielsen-like writing for the violins, the scathing and vigorous final variant (meno allegro) sounds rather like Philippe Sarde's music for the Polanski film Tess. The work comprises a statement of the theme, eleven variations of between 42 seconds and 2 minutes 47 seconds and a valedictory fugue.

I can, and do, unhesitatingly recommend this disc to the legion of admirers of Moeran, Bax, Nielsen, Alwyn and Rózsa - not that de Frumerie is any epigone of any of these people. He is his own man but his life-enhancing outdoor vision owes a little to each of them. Buy with confidence that this will leave you wanting much more by this composer. We must hope that the low key Caprice and the higher exposure Phono Suecia will exhaustively record de Frumerie's music. More please ... and soon.

Rob Barnett

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