Eliasson: Symphonies Nos 3 & 4; Trombone Concerto
Born into a working-class family, Anders Eliasson’s earliest musical experiences originated from within himself: ‘they were my own singing, and tunes I heard on the radio’. At the age of nine he began to play the trumpet, and soon after he became the leader of a jazz band for which he wrote arrangements. Aged 14, he found a local organist to teach him harmony and counterpoint, and at 16 he left his hometown for Stockholm to study privately. In 1966 Eliasson enrolled at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, studying the various techniques and trends of modernism, from dodecaphony to musique concrete. But in the end he found it impossible to ‘break away from more than a thousand years of tradition’, as he put it: ‘Music is like H2O: melody, harmony and rhythm are a single entity. And it has to flow.’ The three works recorded here – all for the first time – are examples of the highly personal idiom he developed as a consequence.
Eliasson’s Symphony No 3 operates on a continuous weave, the saxophone often riding its surface, whose tightness can put a clamp on the music. To my ears the modality sounds restrictive, rather than a parameter to prompt greater creativity. There are some fine moments, none better than the celestial transition from the ‘Fremiti’ third movement to the ‘Lugubre’ fourth (of five).
Similarly, Eliasson’s Trombone Concerto is a work of deeper structural principle than the label ‘concerto’ might denote and one in which the composer instructed the dedicatee Christian Lindberg to ‘play like a caged bird’. Once more the music can chase its own tail, without the degree of structural fascination or universal vision – the sort Nørgård finds from even more restrictive means – that might have rendered such a chase thrilling.
Thank heavens for Eliasson’s Symphony No 4, in which the composer’s obsessive compositional personality yields embracing fruits. Here the tonal journey is better defined, the development of a single motif clearer and more ripe, the textures more varied and the feeling generally more visceral.
All said and done, a mixed bag. But the soloists give their works everything and the conductors don’t shirk on Eliasson’s firm principles, even if Oramo has more to work with.
Release Date: January 07, 2022
Catalog Number: BIS-2368
Number of Discs: 1
Composer: Anders Eliasson
Conductor: Johannes Gustavsson, Sakari Oramo
Orchestra/Ensemble: Gothernberg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Performer: Anders Paulsson