Nukonserter 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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”.