Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Karl-Birger BLOMDAHL
(1) Sisyphos: Dance with Death; Dance of Life (1954)
(2) Chamber Concerto (1950)
(3) Symphony No 3 Facetter (1950)
Trio for clarinet, cello and piano (1955)
(1) Royal Orchestra, Stockholm/Varujian Kojian
(2) Hans Leygraf (piano), London SO/Sixten Ehrling
(3) Stockholm PO/Sixten Ehrling
Thore Jansen (Cl), Erling Bløndahl Bengtsson (vc), Kjell Baekkelund (piano)
all rec Stockholm 1957-79 (except Concerto, Kingsway Hall, London, Feb 1965)


The MAP disc, now under the Swedish Society Discofil label (see review), is more generous in playing time but covers only the orchestral Blomdahl. The present CD is the product of scouring the Discofil vaults and the end result takes in a substantial chamber work, a perspective on his dance music, a chamber concerto and his trademark work, Facetter. The latter secured for Blomdahl an international reputation although it seems to have been a flash in the pan. He was never able to repeat that success on an international stage.

Sisyphos dances with the two great polar opposites. It represents Blomdahl the tonally tart, dynamic Hindemith. The Chamber Concerto reverberates with tom-toms and tributary influences traced back to Stravinsky's Capriccio, to the works of Martinö 's French years and to Ibert. To the music's credit it is open textured but this does not preclude a darker vein which recalls Frank Bridge's Phantasm taking Scandinavian music further out along the dark underbelly. It has a gaunt spareness which is akin to the symphonic works of Torbjorn Lunquist in its voyage through the dark pools of the psyche - gripping also in its desperate rhythmic charge.

Facetter was premiered at the Festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music in Frankfurt in 1951. This is a more richly endowed and harmonically juicy gloom than that found in the Concerto. However its strengths lie in atmosphere rather than gripping melodic invention. The Trio resounds to an allegro giocoso dwarf dance (hot from the realms of Fritz Lang's Dr Mabuse), framed by a glum-toned shuddering nightmare and a finale of deeply uncomfortable music.

Rob Barnett


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