Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Prophone/Swedish Society

Karl-Birger BLOMDAHL (1916-68)
Sisyphos: Dance with Death; Dance of Life (1954)
Chamber Concerto (1950)
Symphony No 3 Facetter (1950)
Trio for clarinet, cello and piano (1955)
Royal Orchestra, Stockholm/Varujian Kojian (Sisyphos)
Hans Leygraf (piano), London SO/Sixten Ehrling (Chamber Concerto)
Stockholm PO/Sixten Ehrling
Thore Jansen (Clarinet), Erling Bløndahl Bengtsson (cello), Kjell Baekkelund (piano)
Recorded Stockholm 1957-79 (except Concerto, Kingsway Hall, London, Feb 1965)


Blomdahl became a student of Hilding Rosenberg at the age of nineteen and reached international musical celebrity with Facetter, his Third Symphony in 1950. The excellent recording of it here dates from eight years after the premiere and is part of a fine, wide-ranging conspectus of Blomdahl’s compositional breadth, taking in a trio, chamber concerto and two pieces from his ballet Sisyphos.

Opening with Sisyphos we are immediately introduced to his often granitic and binary writing. These two Dances, the Dance with Death – grimly and insistently interjectory – and the Dance of Life - intensely rhythmic, propelled by jazzy rhythms with far-flung winds and brute trombones and scurrying percussion – both show his instrumental command. The Chamber Concerto, a quarter of an hour work for piano, woodwind, percussion and orchestra, can be brusque but also contains moments of reflection and also unease. In three fairly obvious sections the second has a dramatically rhythmic drive and the third section is very much more interior and wounded.

The Symphony sounds splendid in this restoration. It’s a fast moving twelve tone variation form piece that shows exceptional invention in its layering of string textures. The brass is ringingly defiant, indeed remorseless, and there’s incremental hieraticism and complex development. It’s only with the solo flute’s lone impress that we hear the reintensification of those swirling strings, gaunt and impassive, and the blocks of brass. Blomdahl is however at his most lyrical and reflective, appositely enough, in the Trio. Though the lyric scraps of the first movement never settle, the slow movement witnesses some elliptical clarinet, ghostly cello and the shudder of the piano’s treble. After the scurrying and restless Allegro giocoso it’s the cumulatively affecting finale that sees the cello’s increasingly explicit lyricism followed by the clarinet; the whole ends in elliptical stillness, a trajectory that feels entirely right, impressively pointed and achieved. It’s the most immediately attractive of the works here – probably also the most subtle as well in its sense of accumulation and disposition of material.

Notes are brief but apposite and the remastering unobtrusively excellent. Blomdahl can sometimes be something of a hard nut to crack but his lyrical impulse is always attractive and sympathetic.

Jonathan Woolf



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