Nature broman ABCD473

Recharged by Nature
Andrea Tarrodi (b.1981)
Mats Larsson Gothe (b.1965)
Lied von der Erde
Britta Byström (b.1977)
Im Freien
Sauli Zinovjev (b.1988)
Pekka Kuusisto (violin: Tarrodi)
Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra/Malin Broman (violin)
rec. 2022, Snellman Hall, Kokkola, Finland
Alba ABCD473 [70]

To my shame, I had to look up where Kokkola was when I picked up this release from the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra under their enterprising violinist director, Malin Broman. If this album is typical of the music they are making up there in that part of Finland I now want to visit! Featuring all new compositions by three Swedes and a Finn, the loose thread joining them up is our relationship to nature.

The album opens with the soaring, ecstatic birdsong of Andrea Tarrodi’s concerto for two violins, Acanthes. Inspired by Matisse’s paper collage of the same name, it has some of the same bright, colourful but essentially placid energy. I found it absolutely delightful like a garden full of sunlight and birds. In form, a set of variations of sorts, it also works in two Swedish folk songs which are stated in fuller form at the work’s conclusion. I certainly felt ‘recharged’ by my encounter with this seraphic score!

Mats Larsson Gothe’s contribution to the programme bears the challenging title Lied von der Erde. I’m not wholly convinced by his assertion that it has nothing to do with Mahler but can agree that musically that statement is true. His stated ambition was to write music that grows like compost (his image) out of the earth. It is appropriately big boned music with the strings encouraged to dig into big resonant chordal textures. As with all the pieces on the disc there is a fresh air, out of doors quality to the music especially in its more hushed central section which sounds like the stirrings in some remote Nordic forest.

The sense of being outdoors in nature is even more explicit in Britta Byström’s typically neo impressionist Im Freien. The title implies both freedom and being outside. It takes its inspiration from West African music, turning the strings, so the enthusiastic liner notes tell me, into one big kora. I already knew Byström as a master of ear delighting textures and so it proves in this work. Perhaps influenced by the rest of the programme I felt that the outdoors evoked felt a bit more bracing than the heat of West Africa even if the rhythms of the piece originate there. Like the best of Byström’s music, it is light and bright and engaging without any form of compromise or dumbing down.

The concluding work, Recharged, is meant to be “electrifying and rhythmical” but it left me a little unimpressed. Certainly, despite being the shortest piece included, it was the only one that outstayed its welcome with me. Supposedly reflecting the directness of the composer’s roots in rock music, I found it full of largely empty rhetoric. A pity given the extremely high quality of the music that proceeded it.

I prefer to end this review with the soaring birds of Tarrodi’s Acanthes ringing in my ears – a truly inspiring piece of music crowning a stimulating and enjoyable collection playing with imagination and spontaneity and beautifully captured by the engineers. Music recharged by nature that I think will recharge even the most jaded listener.

David McDade

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