(1908 - 1986) Senhöstblad (Late Autumn Leaves) (including Intimate
Miniatures, op.20) (1940) [21:13]
String Quartet No.1, op.31 (1944) [21:20]
String Quartet No.2, Quartetto alla serenata, op.44 (1955)
String Quartet No.3, op.65 (1975) [10:23]
Quartet (Peter Olofsson, Per Öman (violins); Tony Bauer (viola);
Mat Olofsson (cello))
rec. 13-14 September (Senhöstblad and 1st Quartet);
17-18 May (2nd Quartet); 11 August 2008 (3rd
Quartet), Studios 2, 9 and 3, Swedish Radio, Stockholm. DDD
DAPHNE 1035 [72:11]
Calle Friedner's notes begin with the comment, 'Lars-Erik
Larsson is one of the best-loved Swedish composers '
and nothing could be more true. The glorious Pastoral Suite,
op.19 (1938) is as well known, and it is as well appreciated
as his contemporary Dag Wirén's marvellous Serenade
for Strings, op.11 (1937). But there's much more to
this composer than that delightful morsel - and over the years
recordings of most of his output has been made available to
us, including his three Symphonies, the twelve Concertinos for
every orchestral instrument (except tuba) plus one for piano
with string orchestra not to mention the beautiful Förklädd
Gud (A God in Disguise) for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra,
Op. 24 (1940). There's also the glorious Violin Concerto,
op.42 (1952) which was recorded by André Gertler in the
1950s, and never bettered. His later works, such as the orchestral
Due auguri, op.62 (1971), display a more difficult voice
but repeated hearings show them to be the masterpieces they
so obviously are.
Larsson studied at the Stockholm Conservatory and with Alban
Berg in Vienna, hence his more austere later pieces. This disk
is a very good introduction to Larsson's music, if you don't
know it, for it covers almost his whole career and shows his
various styles. Intimate Miniatures is known as a four
movement Suite for either String Quartet or solo piano and it
has been recorded in both versions. This new disk, however,
contains a six movement suite, two pieces having been recently
discovered, hence it contains the Intimate Miniatures
we know but with extras. It's a delightful, totally unpretentious,
work, the movements depicting various occasions from a quiet
day in September to the time when autumn turns into winter.
Despite the obvious light quality of the subject matter the
work does contain a superb, and very thoughtful, slow movement.
With the 1st Quartet we enter
a different world - this is much more serious fare, but the
language is still very approachable. The tone of the first movement
seems, at the outset, to be serious but there is much fun to
be had as the music progresses. The slow movement displays a
Nielsenesque turn of phrase - odd in this composer whose music
sounds quite unlike any other - but it's there and it is
a lovely passionate song, with a lighter middle section. The
finale, although marked molto vivace has quite a Mozartean
sense of fun and the music is frothy and very light-hearted.
The 2nd Quartet is a more mature
work, indeed it's more serious, with a gorgeously deeply
felt slow movement, but it's not without a sense of lightness
when necessary - the first movement is especially delightful
in this respect. The 3rd Quartet
is a different prospect entirely. In three tersely constructed
movements, the language is more intense than what has gone before.
But this is not to say that this music is difficult, it's
obviously the same voice as the other works but it speaks with
much more maturity.
If you haven't yet made the acquaintance of the music of
this interesting Swede this is a really good starting point.
The music is, superficially, easy to listen to but has sufficient
quirks and twists and turns to keep you wondering what is going
to happen next. The Stenhammar Quartet plays magnificently and
the recording and presentation are excellent.
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