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Gunnar de FRUMERIE (1908 - 1987)
Cello Concerto, Op. 81 (1984) [24.20]
Mats Lidström, cello
Violin Concerto, Op. 19 (1976) [26.00]
Tobias Ringborg, violin
Symphonic Variations for Orchestra, Op. 25 (1941) [18.05]
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra/Lü Jia
Notes in Swedish and English. Photos of composer and artists.
Recorded at Louis deGeer Hall, Norrköping, Sweden, 5 May 2000
CAPRICE CAP 21644 [68.25]


I had never heard of de Frumerie before, but enjoyed this release very much. The music is emotionally bright, colourful, tonal, melodic, sensual, extremely well crafted, rhapsodic and dramatic.

He entered the Stockholm University College of Music at the age of fifteen and after winning a scholarship in 1929 studied in Vienna and then Paris. Carl Nielsen had written him a letter of introduction to Arthur Honegger. In Paris de Frumerie studied counterpoint with Sabaneyev, a Russian in exile noted for the difficulty of his assignments. In 1945, de Frumerie began to teach at Stockholm University, attaining full professorship in 1962, and appearing frequently as piano soloist.

De Frumerie praised Honegger and Britten, but even on a few minutes’ hearing you could never mistake this music for either of those composers, for de Frumerie has his own unique voice. In time his name may rank at least as high as theirs. Interestingly, his music does not resemble Nielsen, Sibelius, or Shostakovich, but leans more towards Miklos Rozsa, or Ottorino Respighi, or a cheerful Ernest Bloch, with just a hint of Alan Hovhaness here and there.

Mats Lidström made a spectacular appearance some years ago at the Edinburgh Festival playing the complex and very difficult Donald Francis Tovey Cello Concerto, a work written for Casals. He brings the same virtuosity and the luscious tone of his 1692 Stradivarius Cello to his performance of De Frumerie’s intriguing Cello Concerto which makes particular use of the instrument’s rich low range. The work is reminiscent of Bloch’s Schelomo in the many rhapsodic passages for cello, and also in the episodic structure which gives the work the feeling of a single large movement, although it is actually divided into three movements.

The Violin Concerto begins with a luscious melody which is immediately taken up by the orchestra in symphonic variations. Singing passages for violin alternate with vigorous, dramatic, symphonic development. The last movement opens with a theme not unlike that of the Brahms concerto, then after some development the theme of the first movement re-enters and the two themes are developed together and come to a very satisfying conclusion. This is a very strong work which can easily bear comparison with any of the great violin concertos, and the violinist is in every way equal to the task. Both the concerti were still being revised by the composer at his death, so they have never been published.

The Theme and Variations, the only work on this disk that has been published, is agreeable, romantic, and colourful, finishing off with a fine orchestral fugue.

The photos in the booklet are unusually interesting—we have portraits of the composer as a young adult, in imposing middle age, and in old age. We have a photo of the conductor playing table tennis against both of his soloists at once—Ringborg and Lidström—and, apparently, winning.

Your first thought upon hearing this disk will probably be the same as mine—let’s hear more of De Frumerie soon!

Paul Shoemaker

see also review by Rob Barnett


see also

Gunnar de FRUMERIE (1908-1987)
Pastoral Suite for flute and piano Op. 13a (1933) [11.26] Piano Trio No. 1 Op. 7 (1932, rev. 1975) [15.29] Four Etudes for piano Op. 28 [13.32] Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor Op. 23 (1941) [28.24] Mats Widlund (piano) Tobias Carron (flute) Ulrika Jansson (violin) Pascall Siffert (viola) Ulrika Edström (cello) rec. 2-6 Oct 2001, 22 Feb 2002, 21 Aug 2002, Studio 2, Radiohuset, Stockholm. DDD Musica Sveciae Modern Classics No. 13 PHONO SUECIA PSCD 713 [68.51] [RB]

An often life-enhancing outdoor vision. Buy with confidence ... these works will leave you wanting more please ... and soon. ... see Full Review



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