Classical Music Review: New Releases

Ture Rangström × Chamber Works.  Suite No. 1 for Violin and Piano (1912); Capriccio amoroso for Violin and Piano (1936); Poem for Violin and Piano (1942); Mälarlegender, Three Legends for Piano (c.1919); Arioso for Violin and Piano (1942); Three Dance Miniatures for Two Violins (1934); Ein Nachtstrück (A Nocturne in E.T.A. Hoffman Style) for String Quartet (1909); Improvisata for Piano (1927); Suite No. 2 for Violin and Piano (1922). Mats Jansson, piano; Tale Olsson, violin; Holmen Quartet. cpo 999 689-2 (75'25).

These charming works show a different side to Rangström from the symphonies, already recorded by cpo.  They demonstrate a gift for melody, a deep understanding of Swedish folk idioms and an ability to react musically to literary material.  This is not surprising as Rangström was a gifted as well as prolific songwriter.  He once wrote, "My interest in music was actually awakened by poetry, since it was the work, the ardent word of the poet, that first aroused my relentless desire to compose."

Several of these pieces originated as incidental music for the theatre.  The beautiful, intense Arioso first appeared as "The Phantom's Arioso" in a production of Hamlet.  The Three Dance Miniatures were intended for a production of Henry IV that never materialized.  In the form recorded here, scored for two violins, they have a spare beauty perfectly suited to the asture instrumentation.

Suite No. 1 carries the subtitle, "In modo antico," and Suite No. 2, "In modo barocco."  Yet, neither sounds like pastiche.  Perhaps this is due to the proficiency of Olsson and Jansson's playing.  They make a strong case for both works with passionate, idiomatic performances. Suite No. 1, a collection of four brief dances, is especially moving.  The melody in the violin soars over a continuo-like accompaniment in the piano that in Jansson's hands never becomes mechanical nor harpsichordish.

The Mälarlegender (Legends of Lake Mälaren) is a work in three movements for solo piano meant to accompany a recitation of August Strindberg's poetic cycle, "The Journey to the City."  It is music of transcendent beauty.  The string quartet, Ein Nachtstück, was written after Carl Nielsen told Rangström that is was useful for a young composer to write a quartet.  The resulting score is dedicated to Nielsen.  Like several of the other works here it has the effect of a musical collage, unified by Rangström's distinctive personality.  Its pedigogical roots are betrayed by the variety of stylistic effects employed; however, it is, as Nielsen said, "truely enchanting."

This is a splendid collection of music.

Tony Gualtieri
Return to Main Page