years ago being a student of Lars-Erik Larsson and writing
accessible, melodic, romantic music were not the best credentials
for ready acceptance in Sweden’s music establishment. At
that time Karl-Birger Blomdahl and Bo Wallner set the tone
and the aesthetics of the Darmstadt school lead the way.
In this milieu Bo Linde’s music was hardly performed at all
by the national institutions. His hometown, Gävle, was the
exception; there he was held in high esteem. When he passed
away at the age of 37 there was still not a single note of
his to be heard on record, although an EP with some of his
songs, accompanied by the composer himself, was on its way
and was released only months later. The real ice-break came
two years later when Swedish EMI released his violin concerto,
played as on the present disc by the Gävle Symphony Orchestra
and with Karl Ove Mannberg as the excellent soloist. Even
then a commercial company would not risk issuing an all-Linde
record. The concerto was coupled with Kabalevsky’s popular
and accessible The Comedians. Since then much water
has flown under the bridges of Gävle and many of his works
have been recorded – and performed. DG released his String
Quartet, Caprice have recorded him and on BIS there are several
discs. Today there are fairly rich opportunities to get acquainted
with his oeuvre. With Naxos’s worldwide distribution there
seems to be a possibility that, more than 35 years after
his death, his music will find a marginal but well-deserved
place in the repertoire.
wanting to give Linde a try should try to find his songs;
the Ten Naïve Songs are available on a fairly new
disc with the charismatic mezzo-soprano Malena Ernman. The
two concertos on the present disc are also suitable starters.
Of these the violin concerto is the most often played, beside
the Mannberg recording, mentioned above, which I have owned
for thirty years, there is also a BIS version with Ulf Wallin.
I haven’t heard the latter but own another BIS disc with
Wallin playing Linde’s sonatinas – and very good it is too.
violin concerto is in two movements with several tempo changes.
It starts andante and ends with a lento and
so is built as an arch. The soloist is almost constantly
in the foreground, more so than in most concertos I know.
Berwald’s concerto, which also can be played without an orchestra,
is one example, Allan Pettersson’s concerto, premiered and
recorded by Ida Haendel, is another. This requires considerable
stamina from the soloist and young Karen Gomyo has that in
abundance. She also displays secure technique and a glowing
tone, important in such a romantic work. The long cadenza
in the first movement is superbly played. The concerto is
also rhythmically lively. The back cover of the disc labels
Linde as neo-classicist, which is a qualified truth. He wants
to communicate through melodies and triads, even though especially
the second movement has an orchestral backdrop that is fairly
daring harmonically. Basically, though, he is rather a neo-romanticist.
Having heard the concerto live with the same conductor but
different orchestra and soloist and being long familiar with
the Mannberg recording I have come to the conclusion that
this is one of the best latter-day Swedish works in the genre.
The Bartók-influenced works by teacher Lars-Erik Larsson
and Lille Bror Söderlundh, both also from the 1950s, are
on a comparable level. Interpretatively there isn’t much
to choose between Mannberg - which as far as I know isn’t
available on CD anyway - and Gomyo. The Naxos recording,
being that much more recent, enjoys superior sonics.
cello concerto, written seven years later, was a special
favourite of Bo Linde’s, who regarded it as one of his finest
works. He wrote it for Guido Vecchi, then principal cellist
of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, who also premiered
it in Sandviken, a town close to Gävle. Ulf Jönsson in his
liner-notes mentions the rather special history of its coming
into being, since it was largely written over the phone,
composer and soloist discussing details for hours, at the
expense of large phone bills for the composer. The first
time I heard the work was in February 2004 at a concert in
the Gevaliasalen of Gävle Concert Hall with the same orchestra,
conductor and soloist as here, a couple of months prior to
the recording sessions.
is a longer work than the violin concerto and also darker.
It starts with a soft timpani roll out of which the solo
cello emerges in the lowest register, working gradually upwards
and finally joined by the orchestra. Together they grow in
intensity to a first climax but then we are back in a soft
melancholy mood. A new roll from the timpani introduces the Ben
ritmico section which is the central point of the movement
and then, as so often with Linde, it ends Lento gradually
dying away. The second movement is busy, agitated, rhythmic,
getting faster and faster, ending like a whirlwind. The final
movement is again a Lento but qualified ma tempo
flessibile. It starts mysteriously, almost un-decisively,
but then the solo cello sings a long beautiful cantilena. “It
may seem somewhat banal”, the composer wrote in the programme
note to the première, “but I have consciously tried to bring
out the fundamental quality of the cello (its warm melodiousness)”.
So true! And as played with round warm tone by Maria Kliegel
on her Stradivarius, it is certainly lovely. The last four
minutes are magical!
playing this demanding music with her customary eloquence
Maria Kliegel is also worthy of great praise for tackling
with such enthusiasm a work far from the standard fare. She
thinks “that it is exciting enough to represent an alternative
to standard repertoire such as the concertos of Elgar and
Dvořák.” As a matter of fact one can hear echoes of
the Elgar in one or two places.
is an alternative recording on BIS - which I haven’t heard
- but this coupling is unique and very practical. At Naxos’s
give-away price nobody in the least interested in highly
attractive music off the beaten track needs to hesitate.
And more is to come. Another three CDs are scheduled for
release. I can hardly wait.
see also review by Rob Barnett