PEHR HENRIK NORDGREN (1944-2008): As in a Dream for Cello and 19 Strings, Op. 20 (orch. Juha Kangas [b.1945]), Concerto No. 3 for Cello and Chamber Orchestra, Op. 82, Concerto for Viola, Double Bass and Chamber Orchestra, Op. 87.

Catalogue Number: 04U053

Label: Alba

Reference: ABCD 435

Format: SACD hybrid

Price: $18.98

Description: More of Nordgren's unique concertante works (see also 02U050, 01S010). The Cello Concerto's first movement is eloquent, pleading; long, arching cello lines against mysterious pulsations, drones and amorphous clouds of orchestral sound. The following Allegretto is a kind of scherzo, with the soloist loquaciously holding court in the foreground while the orchestra conducts some kind of shadowy dance ritual in the background. The slow movement is calm and introspective, the nervous energy of the preceding movements temporarily in abeyance. Orchestral rumbling around the movement's mid point seems to hint at some subterranean disturbance, but instead the music opens up into a transfigured, incandescent landscape, over which dusk slowly falls. The finale begins with mysterious stirrings in the depths, strangely reminiscent of the tenebrous opening of "L'oiseau de feu", but soon a brief whirlwind of agitation is stirred up. This gives way to an enraptured soliloquy by the cello, solemn and tender. A brief pause, and then the cello abruptly introduces one of music's great "wait, what?!" moments which starts the final vigorous section and the work's emphatic conclusion. We’re not going to tell you what happens; everybody should have the experience of hearing this magnificent joke unprepared. Suffice it to say that it will delight Shostakovich aficionados. The extraordinary - even by Nordgren's standards - Double Concerto is in a single span lasting over half an hour. The softly spoken odd couple of soloists, their thoughts intertwined in intricate counterpoint, or presenting a composite front in generous unison octaves, seem to be narrating a complex novel or play; in fact if ever there were a piece of music with an unspoken narrative, this is it. The music passes through a sequence of contrasting episodes, each with its own mood and scenery - at one point there seems to be a sudden fleeting reference to the Orient; at another, the piano gets stuck on the first chord of a classical sonata; at another, a single note F ricochets around the orchestra. At length, there is an extended, radiant leave-taking by the soloists, while the torments and troubles of the world recede into the distance. This wouldn’t be Nordgren without a final surprise, but it turns out just to be an abrupt change of perspective, and we rejoin the soloists as they intone their farewell by quoting - why not? - Haydn's Andante in G minor (Hob. XVI:11II) in extreme slow motion. As in a Dream is a much earlier work, a long-breathed microtone-inflected lament for the cello with a sombre accompaniment which is entirely semitones-based, having originally been written for piano. A mood of tragic longing pervades the outer sections, interrupted by a declamatory climax with a flavour of Shostakovich. The final resolution is surprisingly tonal. Marko Ylönen (cello), Lilli Maijala (viola), Olivier Thiery (double bass), Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra; Juha Kangas.

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