TORBJÖRN IWAN LUNDQUIST (1920-2000): Symphony No. 2 “…for freedom” (Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra; Stig Westerberg. rec. Sept. 27, 1972), Symphony No. 9 “Survival” (Umeå Symphony Orchestra; Roy Goodman. rec. April 22, 1999).
Catalogue Number: 03V001
Reference: CDM 3006-2
Description: "A highly unusual and individual 'tall poppy' in the far from sparse field of first-rate Scandinavian tonal symphonists, Lundquist produced a body of massive works of great intensity and power in the medium to which he was most attracted (making as many as 13 attempts, of which at least 8 are extant)." Thus our introduction to the disc of his superb, volcanic 3rd and 4th symphonies in 2018 (10U009). The 2nd Symphony, subtitled '...for freedom...' is an immensely powerful and dramatic four-movement 'war symphony' - in this case started at the time of the 1956 Hungarian uprising and completed twelve years later when the Soviet army marched into Prague. Oddly, there are some very distinct references to Shostakovich's 11th and 12th Symphonies, which were written and premiered around this time, and the DSCH motif (not at pitch) - make of that what you will, given that Lundquist was protesting Russian aggression. The first and second movements, the latter a militant scherzo, are very much 'battle music', with blaring fanfares and the propulsive galloping nightmare rhythms which were a characteristic of the composer’s style. The third movement, 'Elegia' begins as a sombre lament, but before long this is overtaken by swelling protest and growing anger, and a passage of pastoral reminiscence of happier times, then sad fanfares bring a return to the elegiac mood of the opening. The dynamic, forceful finale begins with aggressive momentum, but an eerie glacial calm descends on the proceedings and a moment of heartbroken reflection before conflict resumes. The coda returns to the uneasy mood of the symphony’s slow introduction. The Ninth is rather different from the other examples of Lundquist's output that we've had so far, though in no way less impressive. This monumental twenty-minute single span would have been the composer’s 5th symphony had it been completed in the 1970s, but it was abandoned only to be resurrected in his final years as the Ninth, subtitled "Survival" in recognition of his struggle against cancer. It seems to have been a very personal work, defiant and determined rather than furious and violent like the earlier symphonies raging against his first wife's death (No.3), the desecration of the natural world (No.4) or invasive political regimes (No.2). It begins in a blaze of Sibelian splendor and passages of monumental striving and grandly contemplative nature music. An autobiographical element may be suggested by important saxophone and trumpet parts; Lundquist had earned a living through jazz in his younger years, though these passages are more improvisatory in character than explicitly 'jazzy'. A rather exaggerated battle-scherzo in the centre of the piece may reflect the composer’s work in film (see 03U051). An eerie transition leads to a reflective 'slow movement' with a more explicit hint of jazz and some beguiling melodies, then a doggedly determined 'finale' writ large in heroic stanzas and a gorgeously radiant, transfigured coda over a throbbing heartbeat.