21st Century Swedish Composers: Three New Concertos
Daniel NELSON (b. 1965)

Concerto for Clarinet (2000?) [19:57]
(b. 1963)
Songs from the Milky Way (1998, 2000) [39:00]
Fredrik HÖGBERG (b. 1971)
Concerto for Soprano Saxophone (2000?) [24:16]
Niklas Andersson (clarinet); Svante Henryson (cello); Lennart Simonsson (piano, electric piano); Sven Lindvall (electric bass); Jonas Sjöblom (drums); Anders Paulsson (soprano saxophone)
Västerås Sinfonietta/Glenn Mossop
rec. Västerås Concert Hall, September 2000. DDD
INTIM IMCD072 [79.30]

I do not recall seeing this disc reviewed anywhere which is more than a pity given the quality of the music-making and of the music.

I remember the impact of Henryson's Songs from the Milky Way as I listened to this disc, early one morning, on a long quiet motorway drive between Colchester and Liverpool. It struck me then - and still does now - as a work full of unruly life and immediately accessible vitality.

First to the Daniel Nelson Clarinet Concerto. It's in three movements: wild, exhausting and woolly with the sort of heft and zest you hear in Nyman's Where the Bee Sucks. The middle movement is eerie with the solo high up, diving and swerving in lofty aspiration around the desperation and dazzle of the sun limned in by the orchestra. The finale is unruly and jazzy. Niklas Andersson is completely on top of this capricious extravaganza. It's not dissonant; it is unconventional. There's a blast to the piece which the orchestra does nothing to civilise - thank heavens; a credit to them and to conductor Glenn Mossop.

Henryson's Songs from the Milky Way is in six movements across approaching 40 minutes. It's another fantastic piece - The Introduction-Adagio is cool and mysterious including the cello in some flavoursome pizzicato and melancholy reminiscences. There’s even a touch of Celtic keening and a wonderful foundation of chugging strings. The blending of the rhythm combo with the orchestra is magnificently handled in music that presents a sort of Sibelian jazz. It's a tremendous movement provided you have no objections to classical-jazz-rock fusions. It’s done spectacularly well. This work should be taken up by any aspiring young cellist in a free-choice cello competition.

The Henryson's Andante II is tremulous yet admits an opalescent light amid those hesitant jazzy tendrils that reach across a tangy canvas moving between the phantasmal and the commercially jazzy. Sarabande and Groove is more modal elegiac for the solo cello with some strange Middle-Eastern skirls here and there. The work turns into an epic-heroic processional and then morphs back into a cool nocturne. The Vocalise sports an elegiac trumpet; almost Hovhaness but moving into a Vaughan Williams pastoral twisted with citrus. The Passacaglia explores gloomy introspection with slow bluesy currents and finally throwing in a disrupting climactic imprecation. Brutal and Farewell has the orchestra howling and shouting — the percussion protesting. The cello throws its protests down like challenging gauntlets; nothing if not exciting.

Hogberg's Soprano Saxophone Concerto is full of merry-eyed life – a rushing jackanapes of a piece. It’s a bit diffuse and disconnected perhaps but a fantastically motile kaleidoscope of ideas. There are more episodes of dissonance and broken articulation in this than in the Nelson and Henryson. It ends with a roaring and braying movement called .... Then I'll handle the Darkness. Not to be missed.

The recording quality – as ever with Intim - is stunning and the notes fairly support the music.

Rob Barnett


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