Daphne 1012





Hur livfullt är instrumentets puls år 2003?
Pianot står sig, dess puls slår stadigt tycks det - även om dess plats som det självklara hemmainstrumentet hotas av allehanda elektroniska noviteter. Denna skiva upptar pianostycken som komponerats under 1900-talets sista två decennier av tonsättare ur skilda generationer: den äldste 90 år, den yngste 34.

Matti Hirvonen är en entusiastisk uttolkare av ny musik och har uruppfört mĂĄnga svenska verk, varav en rad tillägnade honom. Nu har han ställt samman nio verk pĂĄ denna Cd för att visa mĂĄngfalden och variationsrikedomen i den repertoar han haft att arbeta med under senare ĂĄr och lĂĄtit skilda generationer och uttryckssätt representeras. Huvudsakligen har han valt verk som han framfört mĂĄnga gĂĄnger och funnit fungera väl i konsertsammanhang. 


Track list:

1. Ivo Nilsson (b. 1966) Puls/Pulse/1988 rev.-92 * [5.47]

2. Johannes Jansson (b. 1950) Näktergalen/The Nightingale/1983, rev-84 * [4.40]

3. Werner Wolf Glaser (b. 1910) Präludium 1994 * [2.21]

4. Werner Wolf Glaser (b. 1910) Sospeso 1995 * [2.03]

5. Mats Larsson Gothe (b. 1965) Valkyrieritt/Ride of th Valkyries/1994 * [7.05]

6. Kjell Perder (b. 1954) London Vertigo 1993 * [8.19]

7. Maurice Karkoff (b. 1927) Fantasia For The Left Hand 1992 **** [6.02]

8. Bo Nilsson (b. 1937) Arctic Romance (To Gudrun) 1995 *** [3.47]

9. Jan Sandström (b. 1954) Campane in campi aperti 1985 ** [10.36]

10. Folke Rabe (b. 1935) With love #1 1984 ** [2.10]

11. Folke Rabe (b. 1935] With love #2 1984 ** [3.57]

Total: [57.53]

*Swedish Music Information Center,
**Edition Reimers,
***Edition Suecia
****Da Capo Music Ltd


Very rarely do we get to hear so many contemporary Swedish composers on one single CD – which of course also means that the pieces are fairly short. Here they range between 2:10 and 10:36.

The theme is the piano, played with sensitivity and bravura by Matti Hirvonen, a Swedish pianist (with a Finnish name) who is a well-established and sought-after pianist on the rise. He was a pupil to legendary Greta Erikson.
It is a giddying experience to sit back and listen right through these short spurs of energizing keyboard studies, but a rewarding one. You never get the time to stay in one style long enough to get bored, and it seems the composers have focused hard to make this worthwhile. However, there is no saying that the composers wrote any of this with a compilation in mind. This is simply the repertoire that the pianist chose for the CD.

Let me first say that the piano is closely microphoned, which gives the sound an overwhelming presence and closeness; it’s like leaning into the piano, elbows on the frame! I like that. In fact, I really dislike those distant, reverbing recordings you sometimes hear. That is why I haven’t acquired Richter’s recording of Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier”, since it is distant, with all kinds of smearing room reverberation. I’d much rather stick my head inside the piano, to hear all those sparkling overtones, that splendor of sounds through an audio prism, displaying all those colors of toner, all those shifts in dynamics and touch! That is the way I like to hear for example John Cage’s “Sonatas & Interludes for Prepared Piano”, which leads me to the conclusion – after hearing a multitude of recordings of that cult-status piece – that the most brilliant and transparent recordings of that Cage work are Julie Steinberg’s on Music and Arts, Louis Goldstein’s on Greensye and Yuji Takahashi’s on Fylkingen Records. So – brilliance of tonal color and closely microphoned pianos are my preferences, which is why the auditive qualities of this Daphne piano compilation satisfy my particular taste!
In case you wonder which version of “Das Wohltemperierte Klavier” I'd chose, it'll be Tatiana Nikolayeva's from 1984 on Olympia (originating on Melodiya) anytime, closely microphoned and all! - or (for other qualities) Samuel Feinberg's rendering from 1958 - 1961 on Russian Compact Disc (hard as hell to get hold of...)

Matti Hirvonen’s achievements here leave nothing lacking, and so it should be, when he has chosen the music himself. Great stuff!

Ivo Nilsson is foremost known as an avant-garde trombonist. His piece is “Pulse” (1988/1992), which lends its title to the whole album. Nilsson has mostly composed chamber music, sometimes with live-electronics, in a performance idiom. “Pulse” has a percussive, marching, hopping quality, and when he plays directly on the strings John Cage or Ross Bolleter are not far off, spiritually… Ivo Nilsson is a freethinker and enfant terrible, and you can’t but smile and accept his music as a gift from reckless areas of the mind!

Johannes Jansson’s piece is “The Nightingale” (1983/1984). His piece begins in a mode that bewilders a little. At first I think this is inspired by Gerhard Rühm’s “Das Leben Chopins”, and then I hear Ravel and Debussy… Jansson had studied at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Southern India, and reportedly been much influenced. This reminds me of Karlheinz Stockhausen, who studied the thoughts of Sri Aurobindo in 1968, as he was laying the foundations for his “Intuitive Music”, resulting in “Aus den sieben Tagen” and many other works. Jansson’s piece is a harmonic event, not making so much fuss – just existing, almost at the brink of soft jazz at times, not questioning life so much, but mostly hanging on to the street-car as it clatters down he street, around the corner, in Gothenburg, Norrköping or San Francisco.

I have often returned to Tomas Tranströmer when writing about music, and that is a natural occurrence. The poet Tranströmer writes a poetry that is music more than music at times, and his texts have been widely used for musical compositions. Tranströmer is a gifted pianist as well, but when stroke struck, he was forced to keep playing with his left hand only. This caused a couple of Swedish composers to write a few works especially for Tomas Tranströmer, and two of those composers are represented here; Werner Wolf Glaser and Maurice Karkoff. Glaser’s two short pieces for the left hand are “Präludium” (1994) and “Sospeso” (1995). These are lyrical piano pieces, lacking nothing in musical expression, though written for the left hand only. The simpler the means, the harder the skill of the composer is tested. It is easy to hide inside the complicated, but in the simple there is nowhere to take cover…

Maurice Karkoff’s composition for Tomas Tranströmer is “Fantasia for the Left Hand” (1992). This is one of several pieces that Karkoff has written for Tranströmer, and he has also set music to several haikus from Tranströmer’s latest collection of poetry; “Gondola of Grief”, scored for solo voice. The piece fluctuates between “estatico e disperato” and “fluente ma poetico”, and the rest is up to your imagination… (but imagine it just for the left hand).

Mats Larsson Gothe’s “Ride of the Valkyries” (1994) is as wild as the title suggests… The greatly advanced pianist Ernesto Diaz-Infante in California has produced a similarly foot-tripping event on his CD “Solus” on Pax Recordings. Gothe’s ride slows down, though, and a repeated sequence calms he soul, which finally finds rest in silence.

Kjell Perder’s “London Vertigo” (1993) starts with a ripple that builds up heavily on a downward draft. It has a motto out of William Shakespeare’s Sonnet no. 147 (listen to them on a couple of CDs with Jack Edwards on Hyperion!), but that kind of information really doesn’t pertain much to the music, but is usually a way by the composer to legitimate something, or make it seem more important than it is. Perder has worked extensively with vocal works, like operas and a mass etcetera. I think this little piece is just a diversion, and it leaves no special mark on me…

Bo Nilsson is a Swedish icon, who will never be able to rid himself of the nature-born-genius type of reputation, after he went to Darmstadt from his home in Malmberget, Northern Sweden and swept everyone away with his autodidact compositions of uncanny clarity; “glass music”, as they called it. This piece – “Arctic Romance” – is as far away from the serialism of Darmstadt as you could possibly get, even if you used the Space Shuttle. The short bagatelle would fit any safe family television show with talk and food recipes, and I don’t know what it is doing here, really. Hirvonen, huh?!

“Campane in campi aperti” by Jan Sandström is more interesting, as are many works by him. I recall when I hard his frantic ensemble piece “Acintyas” the first time. Magnificent! His piece on this CD is sparse, transparent, luminous – serene… Feldmanesque at times. Later on the piece works up some courage and hammers away quite briskly!

Folke Rabe concludes the CD with “With Love” (1984). Folke Rabe is a musician – trombonist – as well as a composer, and his role as a pedagogical producer of music programs on national Swedish Radio cannot be over-estimated. Some aspects of the structure of Rabe’s setting of e. e. cummings’ “to love” has traveled into this composition, says Bengt Emil Johnson in the booklet. It is a virtuoso piece originating within a group of such compositions for solo instrumentalists that Folke Rabe wrote in the unforgiving 1980s – a decade that would have suited Rabe as good as an ulcer, which is how bad that period was for anyone with ideals nurtured in the 1960s… These grim stock trading mania days have not, however, rubbed off on Rabe’s compositional esprit, and “With Love” reaches us in full flair, full-fledged out of the illustrious and highly sympathetic workshop of this brainstorming wildman, so meek and sly on the surface, so uncanny and violently witty behind the façade… and it all saturates this piece, “With Love” from the tall and lean and soft-spoken guru!
SONOLOCO records review

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