Aureole etc.




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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Lars-Åke FRANKE-BLOM (b.1941)
Endymion (1997-2000) [13.01]
Längtäns väv - symphonic poem (1983-84) [21.41]
Symphony No. 3 Fire on Earth (1992-93) [23.15]
Norrköping SO/Michail Jurowski (Endymion); Tuomas Ollila (Sym); Jukka-Pekka Saraste (Längtäns väv)
rec. live Hall of Louis de Geer, Konserthuset, Norrköping, 1999 (Endymion); 19-20 Aug 1999 (Sym); Hörsalen, 1984 (Längtäns väv). DDD
PHONO SUECIA PSCD 054 [58.11]



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Lars-Åke Franke-Blom was born in Norrköping and is primarily self-taught. The qualifier indicates that he has had some studies with Nils Eriksson and also with a much more famous name, Daniel Börtz. There have been a spread of performances in Scandinavia - mostly in Sweden. His first concert performance came in 1975 with his suite for flutes and percussion. Since then there have been concertos for cello, viola and double bass as well as a handful of symphonies.

Endymion is the most recent piece on the disc. It is uncompromisingly tough, with irruptions of dissonance, rattle and pandemonium threaded through which comes lissom melodic material of heart-easing or soul-searing Scandinavian character. This is usually carried on the violins. Strange bumping rhythms and exhausted woodwind calls are clearly influenced by Allan Pettersson’s symphonies which, given his location in Norrköping, Franke-Blom must surely have heard in concert during the 1970s. The occasional discreet cough betrays a live concert recording. This is a very different Endymion from the Converse tone poem I have been hearing recently on Naxos.

One single movement piece is followed by another. Längtäns väv or ‘Web of Yearning’ is designated by the composer ‘a tone poem’ (somehow a rather incongruous label for such ‘modernity’). The brass groan, the orchestra ripples slowly with sour whispers and protests, raucous and undisciplined. Delicacy in this case certainly does not preclude thorny invention. There are quiet ice-scenes which, in their enclosed self-absorption, reminded me of Benjamin Frankel’s Second and Fourth Symphonies. This music narrates a trajectory from description of the river from which the industrial world’s energy can be drawn, to factory activity, looms and machinery (here percussion as well as jeering brass come into their own). The looms are heard sliding to stop (very illustrative music at 15.30). A string hymn rises from the dissonant ‘bed’, gathering momentum and a comparatively conventional but still moving sweetness. This is part Beethovenian anthem, part Sibelian hymn. Such moments as this remind me of the ‘people’s paean’ that emerges from Panufnik’s Heroic Overture. This music was written with photographs of Norrköping’s industrial zone in mind, a landscape that has changed utterly as a university, museums and concert hall have risen in the place of stacks and machinery. There is a resolute Alan Bush tone to the composer’s outline: ‘Calm waters; Dark masses of water in motion; Waterfall and empty industrial buildings; The machines are started. Weaving and looming; The machines are turned off; Song dedicated to the workers; Demonstration and fight for a better world.’

The Symphony No. 3 is in three sections and reflects the composer’s interaction with visual art; this time the paintings of Anselm Kiefer. The first episode is Jakobs Traum. This picks up bark, rattle and protest and shows acquaintance with Ligeti’s opera Le Grand Macabre relieved surprisingly almost disconcertingly by a dreamily extruded segment of writing for solo string instruments. Elisabeth von Österreich dreams quietly. Then comes Voyage au bout de la nuit is alive with hysterical protest, abyssal chaos, brass expostulation, intimations of terror of the sort found in Havergal Brian’s Gothic Symphony and, to end, a Varèse reference: the brief howling of a siren.

This release is thoroughly well documented and will have pleased the composer. My only regret is that the visual stimulus for this music was not reproduced beyond a single photograph in the booklet. Perhaps later discs will proffer his Symphony No. 2 premiered in 1995 by Jin Wang and the Cello Concerto. The work is subtitled Lustarnas trädgård (The Garden of Earthly Delights or Lusts as the booklet has it). Yes it is inspired by the painting by Hieronymus Bosch.

Tough going for the most part. Here is a composer who seems to have found his milieu in the avant-garde language of the 1970s. Endymion may well be evidence of a movement towards lyricism even if it is tortured and hard won.

Rob Barnett



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