Stefan LINDGREN (b. 1960)
Chamber Music - Music for the Environment 2010
1-3. Sonata for violoncello and piano (2004-2007) [29:07]
4-5. Sonata for flute and piano (1985) [9:38]
6-8. Sonata for bassoon and piano (1998-2009) [12:41]
9. Association for flute and piano (2010) [2:47]
Seven songs to texts by Stefan Geiland
10. Mitt I den stora tystnaden (In the middle of the great silence) [2:42]
11. I det som tystnat (In that which has become silent) [2:03]
12. Tystnaden (The silence) [2:07]
13. I den lilla tystnaden (In the small silence) [3:17]
14. Intermezzo [2:53]
15. Mullvaden (The mole) [3:18]
16. Vårbal på Odenplan (Spring ball at Odenplan) [3:04]
Stefan Lindgren (piano), Elemer Lavotha (violoncello) (1-3); Kinga Práda (flute) (4-5); Knut Sönstevold (bassoon) (6-8); Mats Rodius (flute)(9); Sten Niclasson (baritone) (10-16)
no recording dates available
The sung texts (tr. 10-16) printed in the booklet but no translations
NOSAG CD 177 [73:38]
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 record.
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.
Incisive rhythms and sharp contrasts.