Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 04/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's interesting to compare this Clarinet Concerto by contemprary Swedish composer Anders Hillborg with the immortal Clarinet Concerto by Wolfgang Mozart. Both works challenge the virtuosity of the clarinetist and his ebony steed to the maximum, and both are products of the highest musical intelligence. There the similarity ends, and contrast takes over: The polychrome ornamentation of Mozart's rococo palace versus the stark concrete-and-steel of Hillborg's suspension bridge over chaos. The order imposed on your memory by melody versus the instantaneity of acoustic fragmentation. The effortless confidence of the one versus the tense anxiety of the other. Gemütlichkeit versus Ängst.
Hillborg is not an extreme modernist. The Clarinet Concerto still works in a frame of harmonic expectations, consonance intensifying dissonance. It's the emotional colors of this piece that make it powerfully new - a searing pleasure, if you will. The clarinet has a lot of passagework all alone, almost an icon of modern social alienation, and when the orchestra enters, it's crushing in its intensity. The work seems to echo the three-part structure of the classical concerto in subliminal ways. For instance, in the central section, the clarinet explores its full range of timbres and pitches contemplatively over a nearly sub-audible timpani rumble. I actually thought of the Mozart adagio when I heard it. I'd wager that most listeners would be more comfortable with the Mozart Concerto than the Hillborg, but Mozart's world is gone and Hillborg is the voice of ours. If the comparison leads you to wonder whether life has been moving in the right direction, you won't wonder alone.
The second composition, Liquid Marble, is essentially a giant slalom of three-octave glissandos. Don't listen to it while you're standing on a cliff or at the rail of a ship. It's also an example of searing beauty, post-emotional in its sonic athleticism.
The Violin Concerto is Hillborg's most complex and also most acclaimed composition. It's a massive piece, and I haven't quite figured it out. I find it both thrilling and daunting. Anna Lindal, the violinist, pulls new sounds out of her fiddle in almost every bar. This is a piece of music I'll want to hear many times, but never while eating or tending my garden or doing anything but listening intently."
Music in the music
Giordano Bruno | 06/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This a quite interesting and quite refreshing CD.The marvel of this CD is the Clarinet Concerto, and I shiver at the opening with its slow pace, its clarity, and with its unparalled sonority. Martin Frost is a magician at the clarinet, and for all of those who deem this instrument rather mondane and boring, listen far into this piece to discover all the wonders one can do with this! It unfolds like the fethers of the peacock whom it tries to describe...The orchestra is fast paced, crisp and responsive, not a surprise with a proven dare-devil such as "Esi-Pekki" at the podium.Liquid Marble sizzles and squirks, and the Violin Concerto is a dazzler, too.In summary: Hillborg discovers the music in his music, more melodious than Kaja Saariaho, less lush than Salonen himself (not that is anything wrong with that!), less notorious than , say, Thomas Ades, less academic than Rihm or Hindemith, and also less muscular than Magnus Lindberg. Colorful, imaginative, fresh and exiting instead. Do it for the peacock! Go 4 it!PS: I had to wait long until I could finally get this CD. What's wrong with Ondine's US distribution???"
Dazzling Colors from the Aurora Borealis
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'My origins in rock music probably influenced my musical thinking a great deal; my compositions range from conventional rock music to wild experiments with microtonal structures, and, as opposed to previous generations of composers, maybe, I see no conflict in working with musical concepts so far apart.' This, a quote from Swedish composer Anders Hillborg, offers only one hint at the pleasures to be found in his compositions. He has entered many fields of compositional requirements from pop music to film scores to 'traditional' choral, chamber and orchestral classical music. His gifts are crowned by a keen sense of color palette in his orchestrations and a wild, almost riff-like sense of solo instrument writing.
Hillborg's genius with orchestral color is well sampled on this excellent recording with 'Liquid Marble', a work with glacial strata of melting forms yielding to subtle and creating rhythmic variations. In both the Clarinet Concerto ('Peacock Tales'), here played with extraordinary virtuosity by Martin Frost, and in the Violin Concerto, again performed with dazzling skill by Anna Lindal, the solo instruments are called upon to push every limit of both dexterity and emotional response and the results are two works that pulsate with new ideas and new life.
Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in this 2003 recording and his penchant for bringing fellow contemporary composers into the spotlight is rewarded by three superbly conducted performances. There will be much more to hear from Hillborg. He is a welcome new voice in contemporary music! Recommended. Grady Harp, May 06"
Excellent and Unique Modern Concerto for Clarinet!
Donald G. Hite III | Houston, Tx USA | 08/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a clarinetist (not a music lover), I try to familiarize myself with as many works in the clarinet repertoire as possible. When modern works are involved, this can often become a tedious and mind-numbing task. Fortunately, this was not the case with this clarinet concerto. I found that the music lover in me was equally satisfied by this excellent piece of music.
The Concerto appears to be roughly organized into 3 sections. The first starts with a solo clarinet, which is eventually joined by the orchestra. This section was characterized by higly virtuosic clarinet writing, often cadenza like. The 2nd section gave the orchestra a much more promiment role. This section had a noisy, grotesque, dixieland-gone-awry feel to it (I mean "grotesque" in a good way), with heavy drums and brass. The final section took a more lyrical feel, and finally fades away. I felt that the end of the concerto was a little abrupt, but other than that, I have no complaints.
Hillborg's orchestral writing is brilliant, colorful, and inventive. As always, Frost's playing is superb. I also have his Hommage a Benny Goodman Cd, and he has a combination of tonal purity and technical brilliance that is truly amazing. I highly recommend this CD."