ALBERT SCHNELZER (b.1972): Violin Concerto No. 2 “Nocturnal Songs” (Ilya Gringolts [violin]), A Freak in Burbank for Orchestra, Burn My Letters - Remembering Clara for Chamber Orchestra (Västerås Sinfonietta; Simon Crawford-Phillips [conductor]. First Recordings), Dance with the Devil for Piano (Henrik Måwe), Apollonian Dances for Violin and Piano (Cecilia Zilliacus [violin]), Frozen Landscape for Cello and Piano (Jakob Koranyi [cello], David Huang [piano]).
Catalogue Number: 03X054
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: Schnelzer studied with Sven-David Sandström and Rolf Martinsson, and these impressive, muscular scores, full of drama and emotional intensity fall firmly into the tonal, post-Sibelius Scandinavian/Nordic realm, while propulsivist post-minimal episodes are also a part of his individual voice. A Freak in Burbank is an energetic curtain-raiser that has been widely performed, including at the BBC Proms. Combining the unpredictability of Haydn with that of the eccentric, off-kilter film-making of director Tim Burton (the Burbank connection of the title), the piece combines humour, burlesque, and a sense of slightly out of control post-minimalistic energy. Burn My Letters is a kind of symphonic portrait of Clara Schumann, based on recollections of her life as expressed in her revealing and emotionally frank letters to Brahms. A propulsive allegro depicts her highly active professional life as an enormously influential concert pianist with a hectic schedule, and a composer of the first rank, while a darker, melancholic side to the music suggests the tragedies of her personal life - the deaths of four of her children, Robert’s mental collapse, and the institutionalization of another son. The music is powerful and neo-romantically rich and expressive. The substantial 2nd Violin Concerto comprises four vivid dreamscapes. The first soars, with post-minimalistic propulsion in the sumptuous orchestral part and something very Sibelian in the vertiginous violin writing. The second movement is an obsessively dancing scherzo, based on the Bal des ardents, a masquerade ball held on 28 January 1393 in Paris at which four dancers died in a fire caused by a torch brought in by a spectator, while the musicians kept on playing - the stuff of nightmares, but a real event. The slow movement is a stately, pulsing procession in which fantastical creatures, beautiful but unearthly, seem to float and shift form as they move through a surreal landscape. The finale captures the familiar nightmare of running at full tilt to escape some overwhelming threat, only to find oneself inexplicably motionless despite one's most frantic efforts. An extended, fragmented cadenza hints at the fragility of the dream world, before we are plunged back into its all too tangible, heightened illogicality to propel the concerto to its close. The hectically propulsive piano work dances with the diablerie of 19th century piano virtuosity and that of the rhythmic persistence of 20th century rock music. Frozen Landscape is appropriately static and glacially expressionless. Apollonian Dances consists of two movements, the first a mysterious, mythically depiction of the birth of music, gradually bringing a serene melody into focus; the second a fierce dance, marked "fast, energetic, passionate and full of confidence (almost arrogant)", based on exuberant klezmer scales.