Swedish Soprano Saxophone Concertos
Rolf MARTINSSON (b.1956)
Golden Harmony - Soprano Saxophone Concerto No 1 (2009) [25:08]
Sven-David SANDSTRÖM (b.1942)
Four Pieces for Soprano Saxophone and Band (2003) [12:01]
Anders ELIASSON (b.1947)
Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and String Orchestra (2002-08) [31:01]
Anders Paulsson (saxophone)
NorrlandsOperan Symphony Orchestra/Christoph Altstaedt (Martinsson)
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra/Tobias Ringborg (Sandström)
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra/Johannes Gustavsson (Eliasson)
rec. NorrlandsOperan, Umea, 7-8 Sept 2012 (Martinsson); De Geerhallen, Norrköping, 30-31 May 2011 (Sandström); Helsingborg Concert Hall, 31 May, 1-3 June 2012 (Eliasson). DDD

Good news and sad news. The sad: this is the final CD sponsored by STIM (The Swedish Performing Rights Society) on Phono Suecia. It’s the end of a beautiful friendship which began as long ago as 1966. The good news is that the disc is amongst the strongest of the PSCD entries.
We have two Swedish concertos for soprano saxophone and orchestra and what amounts to a short suite between these two roses. Golden Harmony is the eighth of Martinsson’s concertos and it is in three movements. The others are for trumpet, trombone, cello, flute, violin, clarinet and double bass. It’s accessible music being lambent with the Mediterranean sun and with a language something akin to that of Bax, Debussy and Silvestrov. Can that Faune be far away? My, how Paulsson caresses this music! His quiet playing is just remarkable (II, 00:49) - as is his other playing throughout this disc. The finale is flightily capricious and exuberantly energetic. The concerto ends in high drama with the sax triple forte at the dizzy upper end of its range.
The Sandström is a set of fantastical pieces with the sort of grit and abrasion you might expect from a modern practitioner who counts Webern among his exemplars. It’s alive with unusual textures and these are most obviously in play in the cool, jazzy miasma of the very short central panel. The penultimate piece curls and twirls. The liner notes claim ancestry with Stravinsky’s Firebird. It’s a rather synthesised ancestry. The finale embraces the blare and blurt of the explosive Ligeti style.What fascinating mood-textures this man produces.
The Eliasson is a full concerto in a single massive movement lasting just over half an hour. The language is lyrical in a stress-laden Bergian way that removes it from the orbit of the Martinsson work. The music is purposeful but heavily dank in a Schoenbergian way that keeps sentimentality at a safe distance although there are moments of remission (11:19). It often reminded me of William Alwyn’s writing for strings in the Sinfonietta and Second Symphony - perhaps a few degrees more chilly.
The notes and the other production and presentation values are typically high. Intrigued? … then buy with confidence.
Three works tracing a parabola from lyrical warmth through the Ligetian blare and blurt to Bergian intensity.
Rob Barnett 

A parabola from lyrical warmth through the Ligetian blare and blurt to Bergian intensity.

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