21st Century Swedish Composers: 3 New Concertos

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This album of concertos by twenty first century Swedish composers may intrigue followers of the Scandinavian new music scene, but it really seems directed at a general audience: the music is accessible, colorful, energetic, and tuneful, yet often so flashy that it sounds like pops concert fare. Daniel Nelson's Concerto for clarinet and orchestra is an entertaining opening salvo, and clarinetist Niklas Andersson gives an extraordinarily extraverted performance, at least in the rhythmically active outer movements; the second movement is shockingly agonized and introspective for what is otherwise a gregarious showstopper. Svante Henryson's Songs from the Milky Way, which he performs on cello with backing from a rock trio and orchestra, is by turns brooding and menacing, yet has some of the flavor of early-'70s fusion music. Fredrik Högberg's rhythmically complex Concerto for soprano saxophone and orchestra is the brightest-sounding work, due to his exploitation of the instrument's highest range, but also to an emphasis on treble woodwinds in the accompaniment. The Västerås Sinfonietta, conducted by Glenn Mossop, provides a vivid backdrop to soprano saxophonist Anders Paulsson, and gives full support in both Nelson's and Högberg's concertos; only in Henryson's work does it seem less committed, and rather more like a slick studio orchestra. Intim Musik's sound quality is heavily boosted, so keep the volume moderately low.

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