ANDERS NILSSON (b.1954): Symphony No. 4, Piano Concerto, Zarah Suite, Chaconne for Solo Piano.
Catalogue Number: 03T008
Label: db Productions
Description: Nilsson has his own brand of completely un-reactionary neo-romanticism which is most appealing and capable of the widest range of expression, as we also remarked when we offered his fine Violin Concerto (05S009) - from searching, serious and profound to sparkling gaiety. The effervescent Piano Concerto falls into the latter category, evoking memories of neoclassical Stravinsky in its jaunty energy and propulsive syncopated rhythms. The work is in the traditional three movements, a lyrical middle movement between two of incisiveness and virtuosity. The four-movement Symphony is a splendid work, combining impressive Sibelian landscape with the sense of drama and narrative of the composer's Romantic antecedents, as far back as Tchaikovsky and even Beethoven in some cleverly integrated phrases in the finale. In short, a personal take on the 'Nordic/Scandinavian tonal symphony' genre, which will appeal to admirers of Atterberg to Aho, Stenhammar to Sallinen. Writing the solo piano Chaconne helped the composer out of an artistic slump, during which he questioned his compositional future (it worked well, as the 4th Symphony followed soon after). The common thread of the ground melody is augmented with material in a variety of moods and styles - neo-Lisztian bravura, an episode that sounds like a spare Busoni Elegy, a funeral march - as though we can hear Nilsson affirming his compositional confidence before our ears. The Suite, with its concertante solo cello protagonist, is gorgeously and unabashedly Romantic, based on Nilsson's opera about a Swedish singer and actress who had a hugely successful but unsurprisingly controversial career in Nazi Germany; marches, dances and an overall sense of tension and elegiac regret suggest episodes from the narrative. Martin Sturfält (piano), Västerås Sinfonietta; Eva Ollikainen, Gábor Takács-Nagy (Concerto).