This CD with chamber music by Stefan Lindgren is a co-production
between Nosag Records and FIM - Föreningen Ideell Musik
(The Society for Idealistic Music). The total proceeds of sale
go to WWF’s (World Wildlife Fund) collection for the environment
in the Baltic Sea. All the participants take part gratis. Nosag
and FIM have previously supported a great number of aid contributions
and earlier CD-issues are listed in the booklet.
Mats Rodius, the flute soloist in Association is also
the motor and initiator of FIM, financing the activities through
a fund, built on the inheritance from his mother Margit Rodius.
In view of this it might be improper to write a traditional
critical review of this issue, but the achievements of all concerned
are on a level that take it well beyond being just another charity
Stefan Lindgren is well known among classical music listeners
in his native Sweden in several capacities: as chamber musician,
accompanist, répétiteur and solo pianist. To this
can now be added composer, a fact I became aware of when visiting
the Saxå Chamber Music Festival this summer (see review).
His compositions are characterized by incisive rhythms and sharp
contrasts, sometimes going from one extreme to the other. The
continuous flow of the music is further marked by the movements
being woven into each other, even though there are marked borders
between them. In the first movement of the sonata for cello
and piano small rhythmic repeated cells in the piano part
are the basic building blocks, above and around which the cello
weaves melodic lines. This is energetic and urging music, constantly
striving forward. Percussive piano contrasts with the legato
playing of the cello in the second movement, but towards the
end both instruments are dancing, wilder and wilder until the
energy finally ebbs out. The third movement also starts with
great rhythmic intensity, gradually transforming into a contemplative
section, but after a while it again gathers energy and finishes
in a great eruption. This is a long work, almost half an hour,
while the other instrumental works are far shorter.
The sonata for flute and piano, in two movements, begins
lightly and airily but after a while darker undertones creep
in. The second movement can, to borrow terminology from pictorial
art, initially be described as pointillism before a middle section
where the paint is applied with broad brushstrokes only to return
to the pointillism patterns.
In the sonata for bassoon and piano the first movement
explores both ends of the instrument’s register. The middle
movement becomes a vehicle for the virtuoso, melodious and burlesque
bassoon while the finale hails the elegiac side of the instrument.
The short Association for flute and piano is a lyric
meditation, very beautiful.
The Seven songs are settings of poems from a book entitled
Hotel Luscinia. ‘Luscinia’ is a family of
birds to which the nightingale belongs. The first four songs
have ‘silence’ in common, which means they live
in the same room at the hotel. The last two songs, The mole
and Spring ball at Odenplan, infest a double room. In
between these two groups Intermezzo occupies a single
room. This cycle is probably the hardest nut to crack. The vocal
line is generally carried out as a recitative with an expressive
piano part in a way contrapuntal to the texts. Having listened
to the songs a number of times they still seem difficult to
come to terms with. Those inhabitants of the double room are
more outgoing and communicative than the rest in a rather burlesque
manner and it’s there I would recommend readers to start.
That’s also where Sten Niclasson’s warm and expressive
voice finds scope for his dramatic powers; he has among many
other things been a successful Wagner singer.
Stefan Lindgren’s versatility as a pianist is well displayed
on this disc and his co-musicians - all of them belonging to
the Swedish elite on their instruments, are audibly committed
to their task. For international listeners the lack of English
notes may be a drawback but by and large the music speaks for
itself and the recording leaves nothing to be desired.