TORBJÖRN IWAN LUNDQUIST (1920-2000): Symphony No. 5 “Die Wienerische” (Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra; Torbjörn Iwan Lundquist. rec. Nov. 18, 1980), Symphony No. 8 “Kroumata Symphony” (Kroumata Percussion Ensemble, Malmö Symphony Orchestra; B. Tommy Andersson. rec. April 18, 2002).
Catalogue Number: 09W008
Reference: CDM 3007-2
Description: An unique figure among the rich and diverse field of outstanding Nordic / Scandinavian tonal symphonists, Lundquist carved out a highly personal niche for himself with his powerful, dramatic works, which very seldom even slightly resemble anyone else's. Or one another, for that matter, though they have in common great dynamic momentum and toughness of argument, and seriousness of purpose. This disc displays yet more facets of the ever-surprising composer's unusually varied output. Unlike the previous symphonies we've offered, these two are not inspired by devastating themes like death, war, the destruction of the natural world, or the composer’s battle with a terrible disease (which ultimately killed him). So here, his prodigious gifts are placed at the service of a symphonia concertante juggernaut, and a rich, eloquent Romantic drama in symphonic terms. The Kroumata Symphony was composed for that ensemble, so unsurprisingly it contains a great deal of highly original, virtuosic and timbrally experimental percussion writing, though structurally the impression is of a richly textured and cogent symphony rather than a showy virtuoso vehicle. The opening is ominous, but in a rather melodramatic, exaggerated way, like the portentous introduction to Dohnanyi's Nursery Rhyme Variations. Here, though, an urgent, percussion-populated propulsive section ensues, boisterously jubilant, strongly rhythmic, with syncopated accents. This passes through a variety of episodes, during which the exhilarating momentum rarely relaxes. On several occasions the music veers close to jazz idioms of one kind or another - a freewheeling saxophone melody, big band harmonies with a Caribbean rhythm section, an incongruous vibraphone solo - all of blink-and-you'll-miss-them duration, never to return. A sudden, magical calm descends on the music, leading to a long-breathed, gorgeous melody. The orchestra gathers its forces, but seems to have lost its enthusiasm for the chase, and instead transitions into a texturally spare, harmonically ambiguous 'slow movement' with Second Viennese and sonoristically experimental associations. A passage combining elements of Gamelan and Caribbean sororities and rhythms tries to re-energise the piece, which seems uncertain whether to return to the bombast of the opening, or recapture the atmosphere of the slow movement, and eventually settles on a jazzy transition into the final propulsive section, complete with drumming cadenza which persists to drive the orchestra to the work's conclusion. A final surprise; just as a clamourous celebration with bells and gongs seems inevitable, everything comes to a standstill for a coda like a sustained sigh. The Fifth seems to be quite unlike any of the composer’s other extant symphonies. By giving it the title "Viennese", Lundquist appears to have been acknowledging its unexpectedly close adherence to classical and romantic models but not to a Viennese æsthetic, as the work sounds unmistakably Scandinavian, suggesting comparison with the legacies of Atterberg or Stenhammar. Its originality partly lies in the composer’s use of what he called his "association principle", in which the succession of episodes of contrasting or developing character or tonality produces the sense of forward progression achieved by the relationships in traditional symphonic form. The first movement has all the characteristics of a conventional symphonic allegro, with abundant dramatic contrasts and a sense of cumulative forward momentum through development of the initial material which is then recapitulated, leading to the movement's climax. The second movement combines slow movement and scherzo, beginning with a descending motif of questioning character, which in endlessly inventive variation informs the nature of the first half of the movement. A sudden transition into much faster music in shorter note values proclaims the beginning of the "scherzo", which is characterised by a buoyant energy reminiscent of Nielsen. The music briefly takes on a threatening aspect and begins to suggest the relentless propulsiveness of Lundquist's other symphonies, but this is short-lived and the bucolic boisterousness swiftly returns. The "slow movement" material returns, but the music takes a sudden turn and ends the movement with the jubilant energy of the scherzo". The brief, good-humoured finale extensively explores a playful theme, which enters into energetic dialogue with a lyrical second subject and gruff interjections in the bass register, in a lively counterpoint of moods and textures.