KALEVI AHO (b.1949): Accordion Sonata No. 2 “Black Birds”, JESPER KOCH (b.1967): The Garden of Live Flowers/The Red Queen, Wool and Water/Humpty Dumpty, TRYGVE BRØSKE (b.1973): Huldreslått, STAFFAN MOSSENMARK (b.1961): Skogsväsen (Wood Spirit). Ida Løvli Hidle (accordion).
Catalogue Number: 01Y036
Label: LAWO Classics
Description: "Skumring" is the hour of twilight, when things become indistinct, shadows appear ambiguous and a little threatening, and the irrational imagination - or is it a glimpse of the faerie world? - starts to exert itself. What these diverse works have in common, despite their stylistic differences (though all are grounded in tonality, and totally accessible) is that they all inhabit this mysterious world, halfway between waking and dream. Aho, as is well established, composes with apparently præternatural expertise for any instrument that takes his fancy - witness his thirty-seven concertos (including two for accordion) - so his 2nd Accordion Sonata is, unsurprisingly, a technical and expressive tour de force for the instrument. The composer set out to explore the timbral possibilities of the instrument, though without resorting to what he calls "special effects", not even the percussive slaps and whooping glissandi to which we have become accustomed elsewhere. Aho achieves his extraordinary sonorities through rich, saturated chordal effects, and "registering" the textures as with the manuals, stops, and couplers of an organ - an extraordinary achievement. The work is subtitled Black Birds, and running through its five movements is bird song: "… not that of any specific species, for the bird song in this work is the abstract twittering of the imagination and dream." as the composer says. The birdsong gestures are as clear and graphic as Messiaen’s, though they are elements within a series of increasingly disquieting, tenebrous landscapes, as reflected in the movement titles, Birds of Light, Birds of Night, Strange Birds, Birds of Desolation, Black Birds. The chordal textures and density of texture, and harmonic ingenuity of the third movement, with its alarming chorus of avian bizarrerie on all sides, is unique even among the compositional ingenuity that composers habitually bring to the instrument nowadays. The lonely cries of the Birds of Desolation, circling out of sight in the murk giving voice to their descending glissando moans are the sounds of utter devastation, and the following movement goes even further, evoking a "despondent, silent soul scape that is then made all the more despairing by the clear, simple chirping of a bird. The initial world is no longer capable of pulling itself together, it is irrevocably shattered." Brøske's Huldreslått’ has its mythical origins in the story of a fiddler composing a fiddle tune based on the singing of a hulder (a seductive forest creature in Scandinavian folklore). Brøske's work is in variation form, exploring the potential of the highly ornamented theme (which in its accordion incarnation sounds like the skirling of bagpipes) using the full resources of the accordion in twelve variations, opening and closing presentations of the theme, and a short interlude. Not only do the variations build with the greatest possible ingenuity on the many fertile possibilities presented by the theme (including casting it as a slightly demented waltz in the fifth variation), but through cunning timbres - including some extended effects - and harmonies, the composer evokes the eerie atmosphere of the theme's supposed origin. Mossenmark describes his Wood Spirit thus: "A shy, reptilian–like creature hurriedly gestures, only to suddenly stop and listen carefully and look over his shoulder...". His quirky, whimsical piece vividly and cinematically illustrates the odd little creature's jerky, scurrying movements in fragmentary gestures and snatches of melodic motifs. "Since 1995" Koch tells us, "I have been absorbed by Lewis Carroll's (1832—98) books about Alice". This little suite of two pieces illustrates four episodes from ‘Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There’, as a pair of contrasting character pieces comprising double portraits, humorous and whimsical in style. ‘The Garden of Live Flowers’ with its snooty talking flowers, is combined with ‘The Red Queen’. In the second piece, ‘Wool and Water’ the Red Queen is slowly transformed into a knitting sheep with the knitting needles later transformed into oars, combined with the chapter ‘Humpty Dumpty’, setting his conversation with Alice to music as a recitative without words. Ida Løvli Hidle (accordion).