Pulse, Piano pieces by
Ivo Nilsson (b. 1966)
Johannes Jansson (b. 1950)
Werner Wolf Glaser (b. 1910)
Mats Larsson Gothe (b. 1965)
Kjell Perder (b. 1954)
Maurice Karkoff (b. 1927
Bo Nilsson (b.1937)
Jan SandstrĂ¶m (b. 1954)
Folke Rabe (b. 1935)
How lively is the pianoâ€™s pulse in the year 2003? The piano holds its own with a steady pulse, or so it seems, even if its position that we have taken for granted as the home instrument is threatened by all kinds of electronic novelties. The present recording presents piano pieces which have been composed during the last two decades of the 20th century by composers of different generations â€“ the oldest is 90 and the youngest 34.
Matti Hirvonen is an enthusiastic interpreter of contemporary music and has given first performances of many Swedish works many of which have been dedicated to him. When he chose a selection of nine works for this recording he wanted to display the richness and variety of the repertoire with which he has worked in recent years, while at the same time representing different generations of composers and forms of expression. He has principally selected works which he himself has performed frequently and found to work successfully in concert.
1. Ivo Nilsson (b. 1966) Puls/Pulse/1988 rev.-92 * [5.47]
2. Johannes Jansson (b. 1950) NĂ¤ktergalen/The Nightingale/1983, rev-84 * [4.40]
3. Werner Wolf Glaser (b. 1910) PrĂ¤ludium 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 SandstrĂ¶m (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]
*Swedish Music Information Center,
****Da Capo Music Ltd
Matti Hirvonen plays with great enthusiasm, exploiting the innumerable finer points of the sound of the piano. Sometimes his playing takes on the spontaneity of an improvisation. The recorded works vary in character. Ivo Nilssonâ€™s â€śPulseâ€ť is colourful, with the differing timbres of the finger-plucked notes, while Werner Wolf Glaserâ€™s â€śPrĂ¤ludiumâ€ť and â€śSospesoâ€ť convey heavy thoughts.
One of the jewels of the selection is Mats Larsson Gotheâ€™s amusing and virtuoso â€śRide of the Valkyriesâ€ť. The other is Bo Nilssonâ€™s â€śArctic Romanceâ€ť. For all his great interest in contemporary music, one can see that Hirvonen is really a romantic seizing all the opportunities which the music offers for the expression of lyricism and vocal quality.
Generous liner notes are provided in Swedish, German and English.
Tibor FĂĽlep - http://www.nerikes.se/Nerikes Allehanda
Very rarely do we get to hear so many contemporary Swedish composers on one single CD â€“ 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; itâ€™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 havenâ€™t acquired Richterâ€™s recording of Bachâ€™s â€śThe Well-Tempered Clavierâ€ť, since it is distant, with all kinds of smearing room reverberation. Iâ€™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 Cageâ€™s â€śSonatas & Interludes for Prepared Pianoâ€ť, which leads me to the conclusion â€“ after hearing a multitude of recordings of that cult-status piece â€“ that the most brilliant and transparent recordings of that Cage work are Julie Steinbergâ€™s on Music and Arts, Louis Goldsteinâ€™s on Greensye and Yuji Takahashiâ€™s on Fylkingen Records. So â€“ 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 â€śDas Wohltemperierte Klavierâ€ť 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 Hirvonenâ€™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 â€śPulseâ€ť (1988/1992), which lends its title to the whole album. Nilsson has mostly composed chamber music, sometimes with live-electronics, in a performance idiom. â€śPulseâ€ť has a percussive, marching, hopping quality, and when he plays directly on the strings John Cage or Ross Bolleter are not far off, spirituallyâ€¦ Ivo Nilsson is a freethinker and enfant terrible, and you canâ€™t but smile and accept his music as a gift from reckless areas of the mind!
Johannes Janssonâ€™s piece is â€śThe Nightingaleâ€ť (1983/1984). His piece begins in a mode that bewilders a little. At first I think this is inspired by Gerhard RĂĽhmâ€™s â€śDas Leben Chopinsâ€ť, and then I hear Ravel and Debussyâ€¦ 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 â€śIntuitive Musicâ€ť, resulting in â€śAus den sieben Tagenâ€ť and many other works. Janssonâ€™s piece is a harmonic event, not making so much fuss â€“ 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, NorrkĂ¶ping or San Francisco.
I have often returned to Tomas TranstrĂ¶mer when writing about music, and that is a natural occurrence. The poet TranstrĂ¶mer writes a poetry that is music more than music at times, and his texts have been widely used for musical compositions. TranstrĂ¶mer 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 TranstrĂ¶mer, and two of those composers are represented here; Werner Wolf Glaser and Maurice Karkoff. Glaserâ€™s two short pieces for the left hand are â€śPrĂ¤ludiumâ€ť (1994) and â€śSospesoâ€ť (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 coverâ€¦
Maurice Karkoffâ€™s composition for Tomas TranstrĂ¶mer is â€śFantasia for the Left Handâ€ť (1992). This is one of several pieces that Karkoff has written for TranstrĂ¶mer, and he has also set music to several haikus from TranstrĂ¶merâ€™s latest collection of poetry; â€śGondola of Griefâ€ť, scored for solo voice. The piece fluctuates between â€śestatico e disperatoâ€ť and â€śfluente ma poeticoâ€ť, and the rest is up to your imaginationâ€¦ (but imagine it just for the left hand).
Mats Larsson Gotheâ€™s â€śRide of the Valkyriesâ€ť (1994) is as wild as the title suggestsâ€¦ The greatly advanced pianist Ernesto Diaz-Infante in California has produced a similarly foot-tripping event on his CD â€śSolusâ€ť on Pax Recordings. Gotheâ€™s ride slows down, though, and a repeated sequence calms he soul, which finally finds rest in silence.
Kjell Perderâ€™s â€śLondon Vertigoâ€ť (1993) starts with a ripple that builds up heavily on a downward draft. It has a motto out of William Shakespeareâ€™s Sonnet no. 147 (listen to them on a couple of CDs with Jack Edwards on Hyperion!), but that kind of information really doesnâ€™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 meâ€¦
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; â€śglass musicâ€ť, as they called it. This piece â€“ â€śArctic Romanceâ€ť â€“ 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 donâ€™t know what it is doing here, really. Hirvonen, huh?!
â€śCampane in campi apertiâ€ť by Jan SandstrĂ¶m is more interesting, as are many works by him. I recall when I hard his frantic ensemble piece â€śAcintyasâ€ť the first time. Magnificent! His piece on this CD is sparse, transparent, luminous â€“ sereneâ€¦ Feldmanesque at times. Later on the piece works up some courage and hammers away quite briskly!
Folke Rabe concludes the CD with â€śWith Loveâ€ť (1984). Folke Rabe is a musician â€“ trombonist â€“ 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 Rabeâ€™s setting of e. e. cummingsâ€™ â€śto loveâ€ť 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 â€“ 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 1960sâ€¦ These grim stock trading mania days have not, however, rubbed off on Rabeâ€™s compositional esprit, and â€śWith Loveâ€ť 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 faĂ§adeâ€¦ and it all saturates this piece, â€śWith Loveâ€ť from the tall and lean and soft-spoken guru!
SONOLOCO records review