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5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest beauty, 15 Jan 2012
Dag Kyndel "Kottebo" (Stockholm, Sweden) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Larsson: God in Disguise, Pastoral Suite, Violin Concerto (Audio CD)
This music is not like anything you have heard. It has gain more and more publicity and now the recordings are numerous. For a long time the only available - and still the best - is the version with Elisabeth Soderstrom. But if you choice Salonen's record you also get Larsson's beautiful "Pastoralsvit" (Pastoral suite). A magnificient piece of music. Try also to get his "En vintersaga" (" A winter's tale"), it's worth every penny.
Forkladd Gud is song for soprano and baritone with recitation (in Swedish but don't bother) and means "God in disguise". It's quite unique. One of the most beautiful pieces of music every written!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss Larsson's Violin Concerto but "Forkladd Gud" is less essential., 14 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Larsson: God in Disguise, Pastoral Suite, Violin Concerto (Audio CD)
For many years the Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larsson worked for the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation. "Forkladd Gud" was commissioned for radio and first performed in 1940. It is for narrator, soprano, baritone and orchestra. The text is taken from a collection of poems by Hjalmar Gulberg and, taking its imagery from Greek mythology, suggests that gods, disguised as ordinary people, walk among us. The music is undemanding, tuneful, diatonic and homophonic. It has a fresh, open-air quality reminiscent of Nielsen's popular choral works. There is virtually no attempt at traditional development. Enjoyable as "Forkladd Gud" is, it is one of those works which gives up its secrets too easily and I don't see myself returning to it often. I have to say, though, that the performance on this disc is absolutely superb and makes the very best of it.

Larsson's main duty at the S.B.C. was to write signature tunes and he sometimes gathered these together later into suites. The "Pastoral Suite", Op. 19 consists of three movements and has become one of Larsson's best known works. This times the influence of Sibelius is apparent. The music will remind you of the "Karelia" suite. The main allegro of the "Overture" is built on one of those tunes which seems undistinguished at first but soon develops a "hook" which helps it to lodge itself in the memory. The lovely "Romance" is for strings alone. Its central section is impassioned and eloquent. The final "Scherzo" is lively and entertaining but, its central march-like section apart, it is less memorable melodically then the other movements. It still provides an effective conclusion to a most attractive work, however.

What makes this disc an essential purpose is that it includes a superb performance of the great Violin Concerto. This work, which dates from 1952, inhabits an entirely different world from the rest of the music on the disc. In fact, it is hard to believe it is by the same composer. It is, surely, the music that Larsson would have wanted to be remembered for. Although still essentially tonal, the Violin Concerto is far more advanced harmonically. The first movement is full of indelible ideas from the opening ostinato, which sounds as though it has strayed from the music for "Psycho", and the ensuing main theme to the climatic horn motif first heard at 3 mins 0 secs. There is a brief development section after which the recapitulation begins at 6 mins 30 secs. The main melodic line is now carried by the woodwind. All in all, there is a splendid sense of organic growth in this movement. The slow movement's material is related to that of the preceding movement. This movement is also beautifully sustained. It is a ternary structure. The central section in particular quotes extensively from the first movement. The finale also refers to material from earlier in the concerto. You will notice this at once and, with increased familiarity, the web of cross-references will become apparent. Finally, at 5 mins 29 secs, Larsson returns to the main theme of the first movement in its original form. The concerto ends crisply.

So, if you enjoy, say, Prokofiev's First, Walton's or Barber's Violin Concertos, you can proceed to Larsson's with confidence. The performance here is splendid, on the whole superior to the one by Leo Berlin on Swedish Society Discofil because of a more alert orchestral response. The recording is outstanding.
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