SEBASTIAN FAGERLUND (b.1972): Nomade for Cello and Orchestra, Water Atlas.
Catalogue Number: 06W064
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: Another hugely impressive disc of recent works by this composer of music of massive momentum and rhythmic drive, monumentality and irrepressible force, in an accessible, very tonal idiom. Water Atlas completes the trilogy of large tone poems written between 2014 and 2018, joining Stonework and Drifts (03T078). Like the previous two works, this is music of imposing, impassive Nordic landscape, as well as its floes, currents, storms, and deep magmatic unrest. Beginning with an exhilarating rush of propulsive motion, the work's focus expands to include granitic masses - the music literally petrified into utter stillness - and the cycles of water from tides to atmospheric transmutation into mighty rushing rivers between the unchanging, towering obsidian megaliths. While not programmatic, the changing states and moods of water are clearly represented in the diverse textures and timbres of the opulent orchestration. There is always a human element, too, in Fagerlund's music; a sense of awe and a desire to comprehend the immensity of the natural phenomena, as suggested by the "Atlas" of the title. The Cello Concerto occupies very similar musical territory, though here, as the title suggests, there is a powerful sense of narrative, albeit non-programmatic, with the soloist cast in the rôle of wanderer-protagonist. Throughout its six movements and almost 40-minute span it evokes a very Romantic dramatic trajectory, beginning with a slow, monumental movement that sets the scene in an imposing landscape. The second movement has the massive propulsive drive, inexorably driven and thrilling, that populates many of Fagerlund's works. Toward the end the textures lighten, offering a hint of the next movement, which follows after a brief, mysterious and expectant interlude. The kinetic energy of the previous section is now channeled into the scattered textures of a coruscating, fulminant scherzo which abruptly vanishes in a fusillade of sparks, giving way to the slow movement, a rapt, withdrawn meditation of the utmost fragility. Spare, repetitively evolving gestures move in quasi-canonic progress, gradually accumulating weight, and rearing up into a brief, towering climax, immediately replaced by the thin, strained tones of the cello's continuing soliloquy. Another hushed, mysterious interlude leads into the cadenza, impassioned and apparently at least partially improvised, here in remarkable multi-voiced polyphonic textures in multiple stopping. The energetic, propulsive finale explodes onto the scenes, racing helter-skelter in a kind of exultant frenzy into a sudden twilight, finally descending into utter darkness. Nicolas Alstaedt (cello), Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Hannu Lintu.