ANDERS HILLBORG (b.1954): Sirens for 2 Sopranos, Mixed Choir and Orchestra (Ida Falk Winland, Hannah Holgersson [sopranos], Eric Ericson Chamber Choir, Swedish Radio Choir; Esa-Pekka Salonen [conductor], Cold Heat for Orchestra (David Zinman [conductor], Beast Sampler for Orchestra, O dessa ögon for Soprano and Strings (Holgersson [soprano], Sakari Oramo [conductor]).
Catalogue Number: 01R068
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: The intriguing title of Beast Sampler actually tells you exactly what the piece is once you hear Hillborg's explanation of it. The composer is fond of describing the orchestra as a living, breathing organism, a 'sound animal', a high-functioning sum of many parts. His experience of electronic music leads both to the assembly of a work from sampled sounds and an expanded sense of timbre. A post-modern concerto for orchestra, then, highlighting the many discrete, strange parts of the 'beast' in a kaleidoscopic gallery of overwhelming diversity, from extended technique sounds to dense sonorist clusters, the acoustic emulation of electronic effects to magnificent, massed surging tides of orchestral texture, a less overtly tonal close relative of Sibelius' 7th. The Sibelius connection is also to be heard in Cold Heat, which adds an intense, motoric scherzo to the eclectic stylistic mix. By contrast, O dessa ögon is a simple, melodically beautiful song, in which the strings build a haloing cluster out of and around the voice. The large, ambitious telling of the Sirens myth puts the 'beast' through its paces, here placing Hillborg's exceptional musical vocabulary at the service of an emotionally and dramatically potent narrative. The fact that Hillborg's 'samples' are frequently strangely familiar - Sibelius again, subtle, saturated string clusters, tonal chordal progressions from the choir and echoes of plainchant that would not be out of place in church; a pulsating post-minimalist climax borrowed from Reich or Adams - anchors this rich counterpoint of complexity in the listener's previous experience, thus providing a surprising coherence and accessibility to the lavish stylistic diversity of the composer's idiom. Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.