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Nosag Records

Csaba DEÁK (b. 1932)
Concerto for flute and strings (2005) [25:26];
Johan HAMMERTH (b. 1953)
Strings and largo (2002) [10:59];
Ingvar KARKOFF (b. 1958)
Concerto for flute and strings (1989) [16:27];
Violin Concerto No. 2 - Chamber Concerto (1994) [18:03]
Martin LARSON (b. 1967)
Lucifer, probleme die Lügerin (2003) [4:48]
Kinga Práda (flute and piccolo) (Deák, Karkoff, Larson), Nils-Erik Sparf (violin) (Hammerth Chamber Concerto), Flute Choir from Musikskolan Lilla Akademien/Stellan Sagvik (Larson), Stockholm String Ensemble/Sven Ĺberg
rec. 11-12 November 2005, Studio 2 (Deák, Karkoff); 18-19 February 2006, Studio 3 (Hammerth: Strings and Largo; Larson), Swedish Radio, Stockholm. live recording 24 September 2001 (Hammerth Chamber Concerto), Nybrokajen 11, Stockholm
NOSAG CD 123 [75:43]


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is Swedish and could be translated “Concertos Now". As can be seen from the heading, most of the music is fairly new. Csaba Deák’s Concerto was written as recently as last year. Stylistically they are however very different. They are not cast in the same mould as might have been the case some decades ago, when modern music quite frequently was of the kind “If you’ve heard one you’ve heard them all”.

The doyen among the four represented here, Csaba Deák, has written a “traditional” concerto in three separate movements (without titles) according to the pattern fast – slow – fast. Within each movement there are myriads of things happening all the time: rhythmically, melodically. The first movement contrasts the high flute against low strings and vice versa and the technically challenging flute part is melodically appealing. There are wild dances, folklore-like, reminding us of the composer’s Hungarian origin – in the notes Kinga Práda mentions the verbunk, a male dance often referred to as a recruiting dance. Bartók, for one, used it. The flute is balanced fairly backwardly, thus sounding integrated in the orchestra but there is still a lot of virtuosity in this eminently listenable music. The slow movement is sparse, soft, hesitant, breathing laboriously, while the third movement again is seething with life, fast, rhythmic with an active orchestra. After a couple of minutes the tempo goes down and the solo flute is exposed in a long cadenza-like sequence, whereupon the music is brought to an end, agitated, nervously fluttering.

Johan Hammerth has reached a position as one of the most successful composers of the Swedish middle-aged generation. His Stockholm Cantata for large orchestra, chorus, two soloists and narrator caught a great deal of attention when it was performed in connection with Stockholm’s designation as “Cultural Capital of Europe” in 1998. At present, according to a recent article, he is working on two projects with vocal music. One is a long song-cycle to be premiered by lyric baritone Olle Persson, an avid champion of new Swedish music. The other is a group of four love songs to be premiered on December 2006 by Barbara Hendricks. His Strings and largo is inward slow music, rarely raising the voice above a very modest dynamic level. There is no perceptible forward movement – rather a long meditation in an empty room, but there is no denying the beauty of the writing.

Ingvar Karkoff’s Concerto for flute and strings is the earliest composition here and though written as one continuous piece there are three distinct movements with the outer ones light and airy. Their associations are with a neo-baroque style, noticeable especially in its final pages. The slow central movement is darker, accentuated by the soloist changing to alto flute.

Hammerth’s Chamber Concerto is a many-faceted work, built in a number of small episodes. The composition is formally divided in three movements with a coda and it is a dramatic work, radiating lots of energy, also in the slow and soft episodes. The solo violin, expertly played by the versatile Nils-Erik Sparf, soars mainly in the uppermost register, a kind of Lark ascending. After the virtuoso final movement comes a coda that gradually dies away, drained of all the power accumulated in the main work.

Martin Larson’s short Lucifer … is another virtuoso piece, this time for piccolo. A scherzo about … ? I have to admit to not being much enlightened by Larson’s cryptic description in the inlay but it is a fresh and invigorating piece – and superbly played!

I have had reason to praise Kinga Práda and Nils-Erik Sparf on earlier occasions and this disc further reinforces that opinion. The Stockholm String Ensemble was made up in 1998 of freelance musicians who had worked together on some projects and wanted to perform together on a more regular basis, focusing mainly on new music. This was my first encounter with them and I look forward to hearing them again. There is power and precision in their playing.

The recordings are, as is usual with this company, of high quality – the Hammerth Chamber Concerto, being recorded live at Nybrokajen 11, marred by some coughing but otherwise no complaints. Oh, yes! That minuscule inlay text in white on black! And for some of the music comments black on blue! My magnifying glass was in constant use. Please, Stellan, trendy design isn’t everything in this world! In spite of this, a clear recommendation for anyone interested in “Concertos Now”.

Göran Forsling 


Nosag Records



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