The ZilliacusPerssonRaitinen String Trio was formed in 1999.
Since then they have – parallel with individual careers – established
themselves as one of the leading chamber music groups in Sweden.
They have received the Grammis Prize for their first CD with
Dmitry Sitkovetsky’s arrangement for string trio of Bach’s Goldberg
Variations (2005) and Mozart’s Divertimento for String
Trio KV 563 (2011). On the present disc we are in a totally
different world, 21st century works by Swedish composers.
This is music that they have played at festivals and a concert
series, Äntligen måndag (Monday at Last), that they
have hosted since 2007.
The oldest and best known – also to an international public
– is Sven-David Sandström. Since the early 1970s he has been
one of the foremost Scandinavian composers. Though he will turn
70 in October he is still restlessly productive. A few years
ago his opera Batseba was premiered at the Royal Stockholm
Opera, followed by his setting of Messiah, the same
libretto that Handel set in the 18th century. Then,
in the footsteps of Johann Sebastian Bach, he was commissioned
by the Stockholm Cathedral Parish to write music for every Sunday
of the ecclesiastical year. See also interview here.
In all his works Sandström’s goal is to communicate with the
listener and the 5 pieces for string trio is no exception.
All the pieces are short and contrast with each other. The opening
movement is rhythmic and fast, followed by a slow, elegiac piece.
The third is binary: fast and playful – and highly entertaining
– and then a slow beautiful melody with violin solo. The next
is kaleidoscopic and full of surprises and the finale is fast,
intensive and virtuosic. The whole composition is a wonderful
addition to the rather meagre string trio repertoire. I wouldn’t
be surprised if it becomes a standard work.
Mondays may be problematic to some people and Fredrik Österling’s
aim with Lundi seems to be an analysis of this. Here
Dan Laurin is the featured guest soloist. I imagine that this
is another candidate for the standard work list. After a fast,
virtuosic opening movement – lucky those who wake up on Monday
morning in such high spirits! – the second movement introduces
us to a person with quite opposite inclinations. He moves slowly,
like someone laboriously trying to climb a mountain, step by
step, slower and slower, on the verge of giving up altogether.
I have met this person! Maybe the third and final portrait is
the most common Monday person: he starts out filled with energy,
but soon relapses into half coma, then he recovers, then – after
another cup of coffee – a bout of energy ... It goes without
saying that Laurin is superb here – as are his three string
Tebogo Monnakgotla’s Five pieces for string trio, commissioned
by the Swedish Radio, felt more anonymous, but may grow in stature
on repeated hearing. A slow opening, played by the cello in
the lowest register, then, after a long pause, it moves up in
the air, pause again and a new start, fluttering about up there,
down again ... This is struggling music that fascinates but
leaves question marks. A rhythmic second movement with hammering
sounds and two slow movements one elegiac, one intense, and
then a fast, repetitive motoric, ‘Rite of Spring’ movement that
gradually dies away.
Fredrik Hedelin’s Akt is a single ‘movement’ with fascinating
sounds emanating from very sparse material of gestures,
as the liner notes say. It is very slow moving – mostly – and
for long stretches seems to go nowhere at all. I have listened
to it three times now and though I can admire parts of it, the
inventiveness, it makes me impatient. The fault is probably
Estonian born Mirjam Tally’s Winter Island in two parts
introduces the listener to a quite strange world of sounds,
where unorthodox playing techniques are interwoven with vocal
sounds. After a while the seemingly unstructured piece relaxes
in a steady pulse that could be borrowed from, say, Indian music.
It is fascinating and great fun. Part II is more powerful and
dramatic. Suddenly, towards the end, there is a melody, folk-song
like, appearing in the cello. Finally it dissolves into fragments,
like a group of people chatting without listening.
All in all this is an interesting and in many instances deeply
fascinating disc that gives insight into the state of affairs
in contemporary Swedish chamber music. The recording is as always
from Phono Suecia first class and the playing ditto. Orthodox
ears may react to sounds that are ‘ugly’ but that has nothing
to do with technical shortcomings. That’s what the composer
Personally I feel that Sandström’s and Österling’s compositions
have that little extra that makes me want to hear them again
soon. Tally’s Winter Island (which is the Island of
Gotland where she has been living since 2006) also communicates
with a personal language. The target group for contemporary
chamber music is narrow but inquisitive readers shouldn’t miss
this opportunity to get updated.
Sven-David SANDSTRÖM (b.
Five pieces for string trio (2008)
1. I [2:08]
2. II [3:37]
3. III [2:58]
4. IV [2:37]
5. V [2:22]
Fredrik ÖSTERLING (b.
Lundi for recorder and string trio (2008)
6. I [3:53]
7. II [4:55]
8. III [4:29]
Tebogo MONNAKGOTLA (b.
Five pieces for string trio (2007)
9. I [3:53]
10. II [1:37]
11. III [3:08]
12. IV [3:44]
13. V [3:56]
Fredrik HEDELIN (b. 1965)
14. Akt (2005) [16:33]
Mirjam TALLY (b. 1976)
Winter Island (2009)
15. Part I [8:52]
16. Part II [6:58]