Dr Caligari Mats LARSSON-GOTHE (b.
Dr. Caligari (1991) [14:35] Albert SCHNEIZER (b. 1972)
Solitude (1999)[6:38] Stefan KLAVERDAL (b. 1975)
Dual Chant (2003) [13:31] Benjamin STAERN (b. 1978)
The Lonely One (2000/2005) [11:33] Albert SCHNELZER (b. 1972)
Frozen Landscape (2003) [7:49] Stefan KLAVERDAL (b. 1975)
The Longing of Eurydice (2005) [13:54] Daniel HJORTH (b. 1973)
Modal Move (2003) [5:36]
Björn Kleiman (violin); David
rec. Malmö, Sweden, 8-9 April, 11-12 August, 9 October 2006.
CONTEMPORARY CY0701 [73:42]
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was
one of the first and most influential of German films, injecting
expressionism into the cinema for the first time in the 1920s.
The derived movies and related works have always kept a sense
of the surreal as well as references to the somnambulist
world the characters propagate and inhabit. This recent recital
by Björn Kleiman and David Wärn is no exception, though only
connected to the movie in the most tangential of ways.
The pieces are all related
by their themes of existing on the line between reality and
dream. Occasionally grating and harsh harmonies stand opposed
to beauty and virtuosity. Even a quote on the booklet states
that “To sleep is a pleasant way to kill time. As if we could.”
There are few truly pleasant
dreams on this album however. It tends to careen from the
interesting surreal scene to a mild nightmare. Dr. Caligari is
virtuosic, expressive and punctuated with brief sonic explosions
of vocal and instrumental sound. It takes the listener on
a trip through a dystopia and only at the end allows some
respite, as if suddenly the subject awakes to find himself
recovering from electroshock therapy. Solitude is
a work for solo violin that finds a variety of modern bowing
techniques designed to make the instrument cry and howl in
loneliness and solemn desperation. It is moving and deep,
and very beautiful, but not a quiet, easy listen.
Dual Chant is among the
more innovative works on the album with solo violin and synthesizers
combining to great effect. The synthetic sounds are of the
goblins/hollow bells/synth voice/synth strings varieties
that are often used in fantasy and sci-fi movie soundtracks.
This would be the one piece of respite on the album where
the listener looking for simple beauty may find calm. Even
so, with the synthesized sounds so abundant, there is something
mildly disconcerting here in the midst of the rest of the
album. It is as if the only way for us to find any peace
in our dream-state involves us fleeing any other humanity
and relying solely on soulless technology. This may not
be the intended effect, but it is difficult not to find irony
in the fact that all of the natural sounds on the album reflect
the darker side of dreams and night.
As soon as we leave the
cocoon of synthesized sound we find The Lonely One -
another work for unaccompanied violin drawing the listener
into the realm of quiet pain and loneliness. This is again
deeply moving and outstandingly performed, and it leads directly
into Frozen Landscape, a duet with the piano. The
piano begins the work with a stark few notes that serve as
disjointed melody. The violin provides effects evoking the
barren winter lands that would lead to the sense of the monumental
loneliness that is so brilliantly evoked in the previous
The piano and violin are
joined by some electronic effects and punctuations in The
Longing of Eurydice, which is less hopeful than our previous
electronically-softened respite. This is darker, and somewhat
menacing at times. In other places we have nearly romantic
sounds which retain this quality despite the distinctly artificial
nature of the electronica. As the work culminates the violin
moves to more traditional virtuosity while the synthesizers
project an alien sound drawing us to the work that concludes
Modal Move is a violin sonata
built on a work by Mozart. The original is transformed into
a Dorian modal harmonic progression with a myriad chord extensions
and color tones bringing Mozart’s melody deep into the 20th century.
The effect is very pretty, but fragile sounding, and somewhat
This album is masterfully
programmed, with each piece leading into the next. The violin
work is exquisite. The piano complements the solo instrument
well and the electronic elements are very tastefully deployed.
There is a great deal to recommend this collection which
is skilfully executed, and should appeal to most classical
music fans who are open to new music.
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