LEIF SEGERSTAM (b.1944): Symphony No. 295 “ulFSöDERrBlom in Memoriam...”, JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897): Symphony No. 4.
Catalogue Number: 06U064
Reference: ABCD 432
Description: Segerstam’s 295th Symphony (there’s something perversely satisfying about writing that in defiance of the naysayers who steadfastly refuse to comprehend the composer’s intentions in "Letting the FLOW go on" (that's No.288 - 08S050) with his inexhaustible symphonic output) is one of the most impressive of his ongoing sequence of free-pulsative, conductorless symphonies that play for approximately the duration of Sibelius' 7th. This could well be to do with the work’s inspiration; almost anything, from scientific discoveries to philosophical musings to a visiting cat (No.289 - 07T063), can spark Segerstam’s creative process, but this one is an in memoriam tribute to Ulf Söderblom, a pivotal figure in Finnish musical life and apparently something of a mentor to Segerstam, who recounts performing under his baton in his early career as violinist and violist. This has elicited a heartfelt, somber, and imposing memorial from his younger colleague, even richer of texture and more scaturient with ideas and invention than usual. Segerstam uses a musical motif based on the musically translatable letters of Söderblom's name, which occurs intermittently in the work, used as a refrain by the concertante solo parts in lamenting dialogue. The work announces itself dramatically, with a swelling crescendo that crashes and breaks on two massive brass chords, followed by an angry, turbulent section. This gives way to a kind of slow movement, a haunted, still episode, suspended in time. When the music recovers its momentum it develops into a slow funeral march punctuated by brass interjections, the last of them very Sibelian indeed. The Brahms is very much what you would expect; slightly slower than average but not excessively so, massive but not heavy, and with an impeccably judged dramatic topography that doesn’t deliver too much too soon but progresses surely toward the final passacaglia, ensuring that that movement's ascent of its successive mountain peaks is as inexorable and momentous as possible. Turku Philharmonic Orchestra; Leif Segerstam.