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Box 27327, SE-102 54 Stockholm, Sweden
www.mic.stim.se

Marie SAMUELSSON (b.1956)
Lufttrumma III (1999)a
I vargens öga (1997)b
Krom (1994)c
I Am – Are You? (2001)d
Flow (2000)e
Ö (2002)f
Rotationer (1997, rev. 2003)g
Den natten (1992)h
Norrköping Symphony Orchestraa; Jörgen Pettersson (alto saxophone)b; Stockholm Chamber Brassc; Sören Hermansson (horn)d; KammarensembleNe; Anna Lindal (violin)f; Helsingborg Symphony Orchestrag; Ensemble Notush; Tuomas Ollilaa, Joakim Unandere, Hannu Lintug, Olof Bormanh
Recorded: Studio 2, Radiohuset, Stockholm, May 2002 (I vargens öga, Flow, Krom, Ö, Den natten); Louis de Geer Concert Hall, Norrköping, May 2002 (Lufttrumma III); Uppenbarelsekyrkan i Hägersten, May 2002 (I Am – Are You?) and Helsingborg Concert Hall, April 2003 (Rotationer)
PHONO SUECIA PSCD 147 [64:58]


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Lufttrumma III ("Air Drum"), which opens this composer’s portrait and gives it its collective title, is a brilliant and noisy concert opener with many arresting orchestral sounds. The scoring, appropriately enough includes a prominent part for metal drums. It is particularly striking and conjures-up visions of some cracked landscapes, quite impressively so, I must say, while displaying a formidable energy.

Nature, in one way or another, is rarely absent from Marie Samuelsson’s output, i.e. as far as I can judge from the works recorded here. This is particularly so in I vargens öga ("In the Eye of the Wolf") for saxophone and tape, in which instrument and taped sounds (mainly wolf’s howling, at times modified electronically) first oppose each other before progressively blending and, by so doing, reaching some sort of final ambiguity.

Krom ("Chrome") for brass quintet is a splendid work, "rock solid", to quote Eva Runefelt’s apt phrase. This is the kind of stuff that should appeal to all brass quintets looking for some unfamiliar, worthwhile new works, fairly virtuosic at times (as in the opening section, somewhat reminiscent of Malcolm Arnold) and superbly written throughout, with many impressive moments.

I Am – Are You? for horn, voice (Dana Johnson in this recording) and tape is, at about ten minutes, one of the longest works in this selection of Samuelsson’s music. The voice on tape keeps repeating some words and phrases, and is echoed (answered, contradicted) by the horn. So far, so good; but I found this piece a bit too long for its own good and marginally less satisfying than most other pieces recorded here. Sören Hermansson’s delivery of the often exacting and brilliant horn part is superb.

Flow for chamber ensemble displays another facet of Samuelsson’s music, which is almost minimalist here, but more like the music of Louis Andriessen than that of Steve Reich, if you see what I mean : not the gentle, immaculate and softly modulating sort of Minimalism but rather the more rugged, sharp-edged and strongly contrasted Minimalism favoured by the Dutch composer.

Ö ("Island") is on the whole simpler. This is a fairly traditional arch-form fantasy for solo violin (wonderfully played by Anna Lindal) exploiting the many facets of the instrument without ever using extravagant playing techniques. This is definitely a virtuoso piece calling both for immaculate technique and imagination on the player’s part.

Rotationer ("Rotations") for string orchestra is, I firmly believe, the unquestionable unquestioned gem in this collection. A beautifully crafted study in string writing, much along the same lines as Ö, i.e. roughly in arch-form. It starts somewhat hesitantly, gains considerable momentum through dense counterpoint and slowly retraces its way back to darkness. This is a minor masterpiece and should be eagerly taken-up by string orchestras. Wonderful playing here from the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra.

The last piece Den natten ("That Night") for mixed chorus is probably the most readily accessible work here. It provides for an appeased, easy-going conclusion to this worthwhile survey of Samuelsson’s often gripping, tense, uncompromising but highly communicative music.

Marie Samuelsson, whose music was new to me, is a distinguished composer who is not afraid of using the whole gamut of modern techniques, when they suit her purposes. She has a clear view of how she wants her music to communicate. Her music, by turns disarmingly simple or overtly complex; is well served here by performers of high calibre. They obviously strongly (and rightly so, I think) believe in it and play it in the most convincing way, making the best of it. I would like to hear more of this composer in the future.

Hubert Culot

 



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