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Swedish piano music

Johan HAMMERTH (b. 1953)
Preludium 7 (2000)
Preludium 3 (1999)
Per Magnus LINDBORG (b. 1968)
Runs and Resonances (1996)
Pär LINDGREN (b. 1952)
Winding Threads (1998)
Anders NILSSON (b. 1954)
Les Cloches de la Nuit (1987)
Rolf MARTINSSON (b. 1956)
Libra Op.36 (1996);Gemini Op.46 (1998); Leo Op.44 (1997)

Anders Kilström (piano)
Daphne 1018


Contemporary music has tended towards likening to the installations of modern art piece that are as much enacted as performed, improvised from guidelines more than fully scored. Such principles have produced, in this case, a disc of vital playing and imaginative compositions. At times, one fears it falls too readily into Scandinavian stereotypes, too much a post-Sibelius, post-Glass music of forests and snow, at others, it satisfyingly shows that the traditional language of classical music is far from exhausted.


Of the composers, only Lindgren is well-known outside Sweden his Winding Threads begins appropriately as filigree, which is made ever more complex, before unravelling at the finish. Nilsson's impressionistic, other-worldly portrait of Mont St Michel is the most obviously winning piece on the CD, less esoteric than Lindborg, whose exploration of chords is Cubist in its multiple viewpoints, less repetitive than the minimalist-inclined Hammerth Preludes. Martinsson's Zodiac portraits are the most pianistic items, vivid, colourful and distinctive.


Kilström has excellent technique; he is energetic and brings clarity and order to the music, while sustaining a delicate melodic line ( Libra ) and possessing limpidly weighted chordal technique ( Les Cloches de la Nuit ). His playing can be excessively literal - in his Hammerth, there is a sense more of repetition than stasis, while Leo can seem more Billy Goat Gruff than King of the Jungle and the gear changes in Gemini seem over-deliberate.


The recorded sound is extremely bright, with tendencies to harshness, but this may suit such modern repertoire. Readable notes and attractive design (with the faintest New Age tinge) complete a well-produced issue. An excellent introduction to modern Swedish music.


Ying Chang

© Peter Grahame Woolf