ROLF MARTINSSON (b.1956): Concerto for Orchestra, Op. 81, A.S. in Memoriam, Op. 50b, Open Mind, Op. 71, Orchestral Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson, Op. 82a.
Catalogue Number: 06T065
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: Martinsson started out as a modernist, but as his personal idiom developed he adopted a broader stylistic palette, and on the strength of this CD he emerged as a full-blown neo-Romantic around the turn of the century. Open Mind (2005) is an exciting curtain-raising concert overture, very tonal, with a slow, melodic central section. The song cycle is arranged as a kind of life cycle, the poems falling into three sections; rapturous Love, the passing of time symbolised by Nature, and reflections on Life. Dickinson's odd, fragmentedly shifting, intensely evocative imagery is matched in all its shades of mood in music of lush Romanticism with many exquisite touches of colorful orchestration. A.S. is Arnold Schoenberg, and the piece was written in 1999, the centenary of Verklärte Nacht. The piece is very much 'in the style of', with quotations, and if it doesn't really do much that Schoenberg didn't do 100 years earlier, it is a heartfelt tribute and if it prompts you to pull out your favorite recording of Schönberg's sublime masterpiece then it has done its work. The Concerto is a kind of Martinsson retrospective and summary, quoting from many of his own works as well as those of his favourite composers (including Schönberg again, and apparently Debussy, Wagner, and possibly, if improbably, Elgar, in the sweeping, 'nobilmente'-sounding section of the first movement). The work is very tonal, with a bold first movement, a slow movement with much in common with A.S. which gives way to a propulsive 'scherzo', and a reflective finale with a raucously tumultuous final section. Texts included. Lisa Larsson (soprano), Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra; Andrew Manze, Sakari Oramo (Concerto).