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Fredrik HAGSTEDT (b. 1975)
Sinfonia per due violini (2011) [44:36]
Depurazione (2002) [28:36]
Duo Gelland (Cecilia and Martin Gelland, violins)
rec. July 2011, Church of Laxsjö, Jämtland, Sweden
NOSAG CD 192 [73:19]

Swedish composer Fredrik Hagstedt, born in 1975 has fashioned two large-scale works for violin duo in this release, one in fact distinctly larger than the other. The earlier piece was the more compact Depurazione, composed in 2002. It calls upon both musicians’ feeling for scale, control and sense of projection whereas the Sinfonia, written nearly a decade later, takes these for granted and adds considerable technical and physical demands, not the least of which is the ability to keep close ensemble for fully forty-four and a half minutes.
This larger work is cast in four movements with the tauter third approximating to a scherzo. Though there are precedents in such things as Allan Pettersson’s sonatas for two violins, one feels that Hagstedt is treading his own distinct path in his two pieces. The Sinfonia’s ethos is not abrasive nor is it confrontational. In fact it’s rooted very much more in traditional seeming material, including some folkloric elements that recur from time to time, but are clearly not included as pastiche or for reasons of local colour. Rather, they are part of an engaging vocabulary that relies on a series of juxtapositions of mood and material but not on outsize gestures. Hagstedt ensures that dappled pizzicati - at the start of the second movement in particular - add timbral variety. The somewhat filmic writing in the finale, coupled with subsequently sonorous unison writing, ensures that the Sinfonia evokes plenty of nuance. Its somewhat distended form and the profusion of incidents does mean that a close ear needs to be paid at all times to the music’s development.
Depurazione is, in that sense, a more cohesive and evolved piece of writing that seems to fall into three sections, the second of which is intensely quiet and watchful. It too is full of sonic incident and these are also recurring, something the composer feeds on in both works as indeed he does when it comes to matters of variation.
No praise can be too high for the intrepid Duo Gelland, excellently recorded in a church setting. In the booklet, full of abstract art and poems, one can engage with the composer’s view of things musical and human. In a kind-of biography in the booklet he calls himself ‘Human. Composer. Human. Maybe poet. Poetically indeterminable poet.’ There’s quite a bit of this kind of thing, as well as the admission that composers compose and shit. So now we know.
Jonathan Woolf