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Andrea TARRODI (b. 1981)
Twelve Pieces for Piano (2016) [16:40]
Crystallites (Allegro misterioso) [3:28]
Ylva SKOG (b. 1963)
Five Moon Pieces (2016) [17:56]
Suite for Piano (2008) [9:17]
Winter Poem (1988) [3:47]
Staying in Tune (2017) [3:42]
Ann-Sofi Klingberg (piano)
Mats Widlund (piano four hands)
rec. Aspnäskyrkan, Järfälla, Sweden 2018

Pianist Ann-Sofi Klingberg remembers in her foreword to this issue days gone by when The Swedish Broadcasting Corporation and Rikskonserter – the latter since some years unfortunately discontinued – promoted new music and young musicians and especially focuses on 1985 when Rikskonserter under the heading “Swedish Panorama” commissioned short piano pieces from 40 composers of different generations. Many of these pieces have become standard repertoire for Swedish pianists. “Wouldn’t it be great if this initiative was regularly repeated?” she asks. Since she had previously worked with Andrea Tarrodi and Ylva Skog she knew that they would gladly accept the challenge “to compose piano music in a small format that would also be attractive to young piano students”. Here now is the result in the footsteps of, say, Schumann’s Kinderszenen, Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons and Bartók’s Mikrokosmos. Andrea Tarrodi’s 12 Pieces … is a direct follower of Tchaikovsky and, not to overlook, Fanny Mendelssohn’s Das Jahr.

Tarrodi has been very successful with a number of colourful orchestral pieces like Zephyros, Camelopardalis and Birds of Paradise. But she also showed a year or so ago that she could draw atmospheric colours from the more restricted body of the string quartet and here her piano writing is just as evocative. The twelve miniatures, whether programme music or not, are to my ears little impressionist paintings. In January I hear shimmering crystals of ice creating a backdrop melody that also glitters. In February the colours are colder and darker – but they still shimmer. March is contemplative – and reveals the first signs of melting snow. In April spring is in its first blossoming, but May is surprisingly dark and threatening. Of course to a lot of people spring is a time of depression. June is light and positive while July – in 6/8-time – is more thoughtful. In August there are romantic gestures but September is, like March, a time of contemplation, a premonition of autumn, which arrives with October’s dramatic winds blowing. In November is darkness, but also glimpses of light. December is still darker, no light. Is this the last December? Is it the end?

There is a clear relation to the January crystals also in Crystallites, but there we are in a micro world. These are so small that you can’t even see them through a microscope. Initially the falling snow crystals seem identical but “When zooming in, each one proves to have its individual structure.” The structure of the piece is, like the snow, falling. It begins in the highest register of the piano and falls down to the lowest part. And it ends with a short coda, some snowflakes remaining in the sky. It is a fascinating piece. In Suite for Piano Tarrodi uses some very old compositional techniques, but Carillon is written with twelve-tone technique.

Ylva Skog, like Andrea Tarrodi one of the most sought after present day composers in Sweden, often finds inspiration in extra-musical situations, a documentary on TV for instance or, as here, a blood moon we had in Sweden not long ago. This led to a cycle with five movements, each depicting various aspects of the moon. Full Moon opens mysteriously, as though it is at first hidden behind a tree or a cloud, but then a lovely melody reveals the full beauty of the satellite. A dramatic middle section makes us remember that the full moon has more negative connotations to certain people – but the melody comes back and ends the movement in sheer beauty. Moon Stones refers to chords that are stacked on one another like rocks. Moon Shadow is bluesy while Crescent Moon is full of joy and humour. Blood Moon is the longest piece, mysterious but melodious and accessible, like all her music.

The two concluding pieces for four-hand piano are time-wise separated by almost 30 years. Winter Poem was one of her first compositions and was inspired of hearing and seeing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring at the Stockholm opera. Like Stravinsky’s ballet it is full of energy and power. Stay in Tune is a homage to the two pianists playing it, a married couple since many years and still they “stay in tune”. A slight blues feeling can be found here too – a happy blues!

This is a disc that should convert listeners who still think that anything composed after the Great War is unlistenable.

Göran Forsling



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