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Britten, Gothe, Hillborg & Stenhammar

Mats Larsson Gothe (1965- ) String quartet no.3 "Visione ed estasi" (2004)
Anders Hillborg (1954- ) Kongsgaard Variations "The arietta string quartet" (2006)
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) Three Divertimenti (1936)
Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927) String Quartet no.5 in C-major op.29 "Serenade" (1910)

Stenhammar Quartet

Swedish Hall, Marylebone, London, 19 May 2009

Sweden's Stenhammar Quartet came to the Swedish Church in London (possibly a UK debut?) to launch their contribution to Phono Suecia's notable con forza recordings of contemporary Swedish music.

This studio recording* was completed as recently as March 2009 and the two composers, together with representatives of the Swedish Music Information Centre, attended this concert in the ongoing series organised by London-based Swedish violinist Björn Kleiman.

In a well balanced programme, despatched with conviction and virtuosity, we heard two samples from the new disc, by Gothe, a name new to me, and Hillborg's with its allusions to an "Arietta" wine as well as to Beethoven's Op 111 !

Britten was represented by early pieces which seem to get left out from recordings of his string quartets and will have been unknown to most of the predominantly Swedish ex-pat audience; they are piquant and witty, and their airing in this context was welcome and pertinent.

The Stenhammar Quartet's eponymous composer was represented by one of the most attractive of his seven string quartets, inexcusably unknown in our insular concert programme repertoire. The complete set is scheduled for a BIS recording by this strong group, who would be welcomed by Wigmore Hall's regular chamber music enthusiasts.

The Swedish Hall in Harcourt St, Marylebone is acoustically, and in its ambience, an ideal venue for chamber concerts expecting audiences of c.100; it ought to be better known and better used.

Peter Grahame Woolf

*"Quartetto con forza":
Gothe: String Quartet "Visioni ed estasi"
Hillborg: Kongsgaard Variations
Martensson: String Quartet No.1 "Sediments of Discours"
Pelo: Up, Down, Charm, Strange for string quartet

Phono Suecia PSCD 182

con forza on Musical Pointers:

http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd/SwedishContemporary.htm (trombone)
http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd/SonstevoldFagottoForza.htm (bassoon)
http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd/SwedishX2.htm (clarinet)
http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd/flautoconforza.html (flute)