Mats Bergström

Perceptions of Time

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Swedish guitarist Mats Bergström has an unusually wide field of experience that includes recordings of the usual Spanish repertory, work with American-Swedish singer Barbara Hendricks, and a stint playing in ensembles associated with composer Steve Reich. The last of these is most relevant to this innovative collection of contemporary guitar music, which develops minimalist ideas and draws on both Nordic and American influences. At the center of the program is Arvo Pärt's Fratres, a protean work that has taken as many forms as there are occasions when it has been useful. Here it appears in a 1998 arrangement for guitar, violin, and double bass. These two accompanying instruments appear in a variety of guises in most of the music on the album, and Fratres also directly spawns another work: Staffan Mossenmark and Jesper Norda's Notes on Fratres, an electronic remix of the same arrangment. The three works by double bassist Anders Jormin seem to be the source of the album's rather general title, with contrasts of free and rhythmic material. Such contrasts area also present in Mossenmark and Norda's three-movement Green Bridge (or are they three separate pieces? the album contains no notes other than poetry in various languages), which also contain electronics, and several works on the album fall into jazz or pop rhythms temporarily before returning to irregular music. All these ideas are contained within the original ideas of Pärt and the other minimalists but are further developed here, and the bonus is a work that in many ways anticipates the new simplicity of the later 20th century: Sofia Gubaidulina's Serenade of 1960. All in all, an absorbing album that has the crowd-pleasing quality of the best of the minimalist movement but consistently stimulates the listener as well.

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