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Bjørn KRUSE (b. 1946)
Chronotope (2015) [45:31]
Frederik Fors (clarinet)
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Christian Eggen
rec. 2016, Concert Hall, Oslo

Bjørn Kruse took the title Chronotope from writings of the Russian literary philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975). It is a useful term that describes “how an awareness of time and space (chronos and topos) is represented in language and discourse.” Kruse explains that the word “also naturally applies as a model to the experience of spatial and temporal dimensions in musical ‘discourse’, where the immediate memory of events in the past, and the expectations of events in the future, fills and enriches the moment of listening."

Kruse is filled with admiration for clarinettist Frederik Fors, and the collaborative nature of how orchestra, conductor and soloist brought this recording into a “powerful and intense expression that elevates the work beyond my dreams.” Composer and soloist worked together during the composing process, and the virtuoso nature of the solo part with its creative use of the high register is a defining aspect of the work as concerto. Recorded in vividly detailed and colourful sound that superbly communicates the drama and subtleties of the score, this is indeed a production for which any composer would seriously consider losing some part of their anatomy.

Chronotope is subtitled Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, and it is cast in three substantial movements of increasing duration. This is not however a conventional fast-slow-fast concert form. Each movement is almost a concerto within a concerto, presenting its own dramatic scenario. Indeed, there is a quasi-narrative feel to the piece as a whole that the listener can fill in for themselves. The arc of the work as a whole does have an inner logic, the quietly atmospheric opening for instance being balanced by the diffusion of energy and winding down of the conclusions of both the first movement and the last. There is interplay between soloist and instruments in the orchestra, but the multi-layered nature of the sonorities goes beyond call and response. Material for the soloist has melodic content but is not typically lyrical, more rhetoric al in nature. This is music with intensity, but also a richness of content that carries us along on a spectacular voyage, the central movement starting out with a forceful drive and rhythmic energy that motors the rest of the work like its kinetic and strongly beating heart. Writing for orchestra and soloist is conventional in the sense that neither random ‘noise’ or abandonment of tonality play any part in its idiom. There are a few moments when the orchestration and parallel chords of something like Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphony are called to mind, perhaps one or two corners where memories of operatic Berg nestle, but with new music of this kind it is virtually impossible not to find the scent of elder compositional voices popping up.

Chronotope is a stunning piece, and in such an inspired performance should certainly arouse interest amongst top-level clarinettists. Short playing time may be an issue for some, but this is a work that can stand very well on its own. This is contemporary music with substance and value, and well worth your investment.

Dominy Clements



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