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Bo LINDE (1933–1970)
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 18 (1958) [26:15];
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 29 (1965) [30:03]
Karen Gomyo (violin), Maria Kliegel (cello)
Gävle Symphony Orchestra/Petter Sundkvist
rec. 5-7 March 2003 (Violin Concerto); 26-28 April 2004 (Cello Concerto), Gevaliasalen, Gävle, Sweden
First issued on Swedish Society Discofil in 2005
NAXOS 8.557855 [56:18]

Fifty 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.
Anyone 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.
The 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.
The 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.
This 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!
Besides 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.
There 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.
Göran Forsling

see also review by Rob Barnett


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