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Rosenberg Piano Music

Reviewed here in the context of a wide range of Swedish music on CD, this is a worth-while selection of 42 pieces of piano music by Hilding Rosenberg, one of the earliest of Sweden's important composers, an admirable project by an excellent pianist of the country. Try first the Sonatin (1949) and the big set of Theme & Variations (1941).


Peter Grahame Woolf

Swedish Music CDs received
from Swedish Music Information Centre

Bo Linden Orchestral Works Vol 1 SSACD1131
Schaub. Swedish Works for flute.IMCD 091
Norbotten Chamber Orch. J. Sandstrom, Fredrik Hogberg m.fl. scdl130
Gustaf Bengtsson. ViolinkonsertCDS-1 063- 2
Anders Eliasson.Camerata Nordica.CAP21731
Guna Kurmis. Medins. RS055
Erland von Koch. The 18 monologues for solo instruments
Dag Wiren. String Quartets 2-5. Lysell QuartetDaphne 1021
Soderlundh, Bjorkander, Norman m.fl. Bengt Forsberg. Solitaires 2.ACCD-1O16
Emil Sjogren. CAP 21714
Helena Muntell Orchestra1-Work_Sterling CDS 1066-2
Per Martensson, J oakim Sandgren, Mats Larsson Gothe. Cordes sur bois. P ALCD986
Johan Hammerth, Par lindgren, Anders Nilsson, Rolf Martinsson. Anders Kilstrom.DAPHNE
Frumerie, Rosenberg, Rolf Martinsson, Daniel Bortz. Flames.DAPHNE 1019

In response to our report of the New Music Festival 2005 in Stockholm we have received a big batch of CDs from Sweden's Music Information Centre, the most interesting of which will be reviewed briefly as time allows.

A violin recital of music by Emil Sjogren (two sonatas and two shorter pieces) proved greatly endearing, these works dating from 1906-1913 better than many of those selected to represent the musical vitality of that country in the recent From-Sweden.com festival held in UK. Given with ardour and commitment by Ringborg and Kilstrom, reliable guides. Definitely worth exploring by adventurous aspiring violin recitalists; they'd go down well alongside 'standards' in the canonic repertoire.

Dag Wiren 's Serenade for Strings used to be broadcast regularly and was a favourite of mine, but I knew nothing else of his. A new CD of four of Wiren's string quartets recorded in Stockholm 2003-2005 is revelatory [Daphne 1021] . Mostly delightful unproblematic music which is ever-fresh and persuasively recorded by the Lysell Quartet. Superbly crafted music, never portentous and eschewing the alienating modernism of the 70s, the most powerful and serious is the five movement 4th. They are ideal to be considered for novelties in string quartet programmes; if music club organisers are nervous of music their members don't know, perhaps some movements could be introduced as encores? They should not remain private Swedish pleasures.

Hilding Rosenberg's quintet (1959), which begins arrestingly with a long echoing horn solo (c.f. Britten's Serenade ) is the major discovery in a fine CD by the Swedish Woodwind Quintet, members of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra [Dapne 1019]. It is a major work, 5 movements c.23 mins, accessible music derived from a twelve-note series, though you might not think so, and it should have a firm place in the wind quintet repertoire.

Daniel Bortz's evocative Winter Piece II (1982, rvd) too is well worth looking at, as is Rolf Martinsson's Flames which starts with a flute solo and requires an oboe d'amore. Plenty of colourful new repertoire for UK groups, and this is the sort of thing that college students should be devouring!

Frederik Burstedt 's violin recital (2 concertos and 3 solos) is the most innovative CD in the batch which I've heard so far, one that satisfies my prime criterion of absolute uniqueness. He worked with all the composers ( Martensson , Sandgren & Gothe ) and they led him to new ways with his instrument which is 'burdened by tradition'. The Swedish Serenade Ensemble is mainly winds and the concertos seem to be honestly balanced (Weill's concerto illustrates the difficulty of violin with wind ensemble) and might work live. All three composers are accessible-modern, no minimalism or neo-romanticism here. Martensson plays 'kaleidoscopic games' with familiar violinistic patterns and Gothe poses lyrical and machine-like components in opposition. Working with the composers Burstedt opens new possibilties for the instrument, notably Sandgren's method to create a personal sound with the string pressed lightly and the bow moved extremely slowly. His solo has a tape halo of 'five virtual violinists', their 'dreamy, reverberant background meeting the dry, wooden sound' of Burstedt's own violin. I cannot recommend too highly this generous 80 mins programme, recorded superbly with a wide dynamic range [Palette PAL PAL 986] .

© Peter Grahame Woolf