Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Karl-Birger BLOMDAHL
Praeludium and Allegro (1949) [5.43]
Violin Concerto (1946) [16.20]
Concerto Grosso (1944) [17.55]
Concert Overture (1940) [7.12]
Symphony No. 2 (1947) [22.00]
Ola Rudner (violin)
Helsingborg SO/Stig Westerberg
rec 1989 Helsingborg, Sweden
Scandinavian Contemporary Music Series
MAP CD 9024 (Swedish Society Discofil associate) [70.08]


Blomdahl's approach to music making is at odds with that of Holmboe or Rosenberg. His leans toward what we might call tuneful neo-classicism - perhaps Walter Piston is a reasonable analogue although Hindemith is usually quoted as the nearest parallel. 

These works, largely unknown and many, if not all, being world premiere recordings, are from the 1940s just before his 'explosion' onto the international stage with Symphony No. 3 Facetter at the 1951 ISCM. 

The Praeludium and Allegro is classically dour with that Nordic predilection for gloom. The Allegro is gritty - rather like Tippett (Little Music for Strings) with a dose of Allan Pettersson thrown in. The dapper and busy little violin concerto (Dumbarton Oaks with an infusion of the melodic expression of Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra) is playfully neo-classical in the outer movements. It turns to a dream-like sour tunefulness in the andante. This is a work that will instantly endear itself to those who appreciate the Benjamin Frankel or Bo Linde violin concertos. I would not be surprised if Schnittke was familiar with this piece before writing his neo-Baroque concertante pieces for violin. 

The Concerto Grosso is academic of contour but thankfully a perky clarinet theme provides some humanity. The andante simmers over a low flame like a bass-heavy version of the Barber Adagio. The other two movements are vigorous (like the finale to Wirén's Serenade) and, in the finale, retreat, at first, into a misty Bergian lament. William Alwyn's Second Symphony and the Concerto Grosso No. 2 have their counterpart in this music. 

The overture is a sturdy item and is as brash a piece as you will find on this disc. Grippingly Beethovenian it seems to have been written with the tempest clouds of Beethoven's Ninth in mind; that and the rolling tumbril of Brahms Symphony No. 1. The sharply accented rhythms also recall Beethoven's Fifth cross-cut with some undeniably catchy trumpetry (3.30) and the rattle of a side-drum echoing Shostakovich's Leningrad

The Second Symphony after rejection was dug out after Blomdahl's Facetter success at the ISCM. The outer movements are raucous, cleanly orchestrated and rhythmically patterned with fugal material in the first. Between them comes a hesitant Bergian Molto tranquillo rising from a perfectly peaceful equilibrium to a climactic statement skilfully built to the template of a Shostakovich largo

A major treasury for Blomdahl admirers, actual, hopeful or intended. Enhanced by wide-ranging notes from Christina Tobeck. 

Rob Barnett


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