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Contemporary Swedish Music for Two Violins

Erik Förare
Håkan Larsson
Ingvar Karkoff
Kerstin Jeppsson
Peter Schuback

pictured with
Duo Gelland

nosag 121 [64´33]


The vitality of Swedish musical life today has been very evident to us since visiting Stockholm's International Festival for New Music in February 2005 and subsequently reviewing many CDs acquired there.


This is one of a further batch of some 15 more received this month from Sweden and first impressions are that it is another treasure trove. Backlog of CDs for review from all over the world means that these have to be Pointers instead of full reviews, therefore many links to follow. [More review writers for Musical Pointers always required!]


How many modern violin duos do you know? Rawsthorne's Theme and Variations (1937) is the only one I am familiar with by a British composer, otherwise the Bartok Duos, a collection that deserves to be as well known as his other didactic compilation Mikrokosmos.

This duo has by their flair and charisma created a new repetoire, which should be better known far beyond its Swedish niche. These five composers have all produced works that are fresh and different, and that leave you wanting to know more of their music. The information in the fully illustrated booklet is well organised and - mercifully - printed in clear black-on-white. The CD is produced by Stellan Sagvik, whose CD of his own ten concertinos we have enjoyed and recommended.


For individual biographies please click on the blue links for each name above. The CD is recommended warmly for all violinists and colleagues in string quartets (quartet recitals could be enhanced by including an item which do not require all four players?) and these duos should certainly be available in every college strings department in UK and other countries outside Scandinavia. It will also open student composers' ears and imaginations and broaden their perspectives.

This image of the track listing on the Duo Gelland booklet back and on the jewel box back is something of a Swedish joke maybe? Grappling with the booklet, the listing (light brown on dark brown) is virtually unreadable, and very irritating. Only later we came across the reversal on the back of the case!


But this problem is even worse with the New Concertos disc, with the texts muddled in their ordering, and a lot of it again almost unreadable in small italic print, black on dark blue... Don't do that!

Csaba Deák: Concerto for flute and strings (2005) 25´26
Johan Hammerth: Strings and largo (2002) 10´59
Ingvar Karkoff: Konsert för flöjt och stråkar (1989) 16´27
Johan Hammerth: Kammarkonsert (1994) (Live recording) 18´03
Martin Larson: Lucifer, probleme die lügerin (2003) 4´48

Stockholm String Ensemble/Sven H Åberg with soloists

nosag 123 [75´43]

The Stockholm String Ensemble, conductor Sven H Åberg, was formed in 1998, and aims to play primarily Swedish music with emphasis on the music of our times, in close collaboration with the composers.

Many world premieres have been given by the soloists here, flutist Kinga Práda [pictured] and violinist Nils-Erik Sparf. The music is well worth exploring, but you do need good eyesight and some patience to sort it out. [The notes on the two flute concertos appear confusingly in reverse order from their track listings!]

The text here is in English (English not vetted by a native English speaker) and the whole effect is so messy as to make an interesting disc unrecommendable abroad.

© Peter Grahame Woolf