Torbjörn Iwan Lundquist Symphonic cycle continues

This release is the third recording of Torbjörn Iwan Lundquist symphonies by Sterling, and the fourth overall of his music. The two symphonies here both have unusual origins.

Lundquist wrote a work for the Kroumata Percussion Ensemble in 1976. The project inspired him to do something larger, using the ensemble. The result was his eighth symphony.

Symphony No. 8, “Kroumata” features the ensemble in an orchestral setting — but it’s not a concerto for percussion. Lundquist uses the percussion instruments as part of the orchestral texture, albeit in an often prominent manner.

I was most impressed with Lundquist’s orchestration. Although the Kroumata Ensemble is using standard percussion instruments, Lundquist combines them in unusual ways. At times, the sound reminded me of Harry Partch (without the microtones).

Rather, the symphony has a moderately modernist sound. The strong syncopations, jagged melodies, and thick chords resembled late 1950s monster movie scores in character. Although at a much higher quality!

The liner notes try to make the case that Lundquist’s Symphony No. 5 is a tribute to Viennese classical music. Sure, the subtitle “Die Wienerische” suggests that, but the tribute is quite subtle. Lundquist’s symphony has Haydeneque proportions, cast in a modern language.

The work is quite lyrical and uses modal harmonies and scales to great effect (though not very Viennese). I thought the style more in line with composers like William Schuman and Roy Harris — which is not bad company at all.

The recordings and performances are excellent. Lundquist conducts his Fifth Symphony with the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra. It’s a live recording, and the sound is quite good (and the audience quite well-behaved).

Lundquist didn’t live to premiere the Kroumata symphony. This performance features the ensemble with the Malmöaut; Symphony Orchestra. So I’m sure the composer’s intentions are well-represented.

Sterling has released six of Lundquist’s nine symphonies. Only his first and seventh symphonies remain (there is no Symphony No. 6). I look forward to that final volume.

Torbjörn Iwan Lundquist: Symphonies Nos. 8 & 5
Malmö Symphony Orchestra; Kroumata Percussion Ensemble; B. Tommy Andersson, conductor
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, Torbjörn Iwan Lundquist, conductor
Sterling CDM 3007 

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