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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


Gunnar de Frumerie's music proclaims another Swedish late romantic. His music, when emphatic, sounds like Nielsen. At other times he approximates to late 1940s Alwyn or early Lennox Berkeley as in the case of Berkeley's Cello Concerto and the extraordinarily powerful Nocturne for orchestra. His music is always succinct - not garrulous or meandering

The Pastoral Suite is a work of idyllic innocence, nimble joie-de-vivre, lullaby simplicity, and, when at rest, Fauré-like in its sun-warmed cradling. You might well know the piece in the version arranged in 1941 for flute, harp and string orchestra. The Piano Trio No. 1 is from the year before and is rather unforgivingly Bartókian in the first and final movements relaxing for a lovely songlike andante amabile. The concluding allegro con spirito has been influenced by the witchery of the finale of Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1. The piece was revised (I suspect substantially) in 1975. The Four Studies for solo piano are all in allegro time and include the muscular bull-in-a-china shop Puck (No.1), a motor-hearted allegretto affabile (not all that ingratiatingly affable, I thought), a quick pulsed Toccata-like allegro and a ruthless allegro vigoroso. The final study is from 1953; the others from 1943-44. The Piano Quartet No. 1 is from 1941. The first movement includes, at 5.20, a dignified almost Iberian courtly curve amid a Ravel-like chatter. The second movement's hoarse and shadowed romantic musing prepares the way for the shivering threat of the intermezzo (tr. 15) and later its business-like determination. De Frumerie relaxes into cheery, sometimes Beethovenian, energy in the final allegro con brio.

Unhesitatingly recommended to the legion of admirers of Nielsen, Alwyn and Rózsa - not that de Frumerie is any epigone of any of these people. He is his own man but his often life-enhancing outdoor vision owes a little to each of them. Buy with confidence that this will leave you wanting more de Frumerie. 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


see also

Gunnar de FRUMERIE (1908 - 1987) Cello Concerto


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