Lennart Fredriksson
Not Yet Dawn

Lennart Fredriksson Not Yet Dawn
Lennart Fredriksson [composition] – Dan Almgren [violin on tracks 1 – 3] – Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra [tracks 1 – 3 & 7 - 10] – Mats Rondin [cond. on tracks 1 – 3 & 7 – 10]
Stockholm Arts Trio [tracks 4 – 6] – Lena Granlund [mezzo soprano on track 13] – Gustaf Sjökvist Chamber Choir [tracks 11 – 13] – Gustaf Sjökvist [cond. on tracks 11 – 13]

Phono Suecia PSCD 167. Duration: 69:41

01 - 03. Violin Concerto (1999 - 2000) [21:03]:

04 - 06. Trio-Sonata (1990 - 1991) [19:02]

07 - 10. Sonata Scura (1988 / 2005) [16:31]

11 - 13. Three Nocturnal Songs (1986 - 2001) [11:55]

Lennart Fredriksson
photograph: jenny leyman

Lennart Fredriksson is probably most known for his part in the famous Berwald Quartet, in which he participated on violin from 1978 – 1988. During those years a host of important string quartet recordings were made, with the works of, for instance, Sven-Erik Bäck, Jan W. Morthenson, Gösta Nystroem, Hilding Rosenberg and others. However, Lennart Fredriksson has also been a member of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and other leading Swedish orchestras. Fredriksson has also premiered new music, even rising to the part as a conductor.

With this CD in the stores, it’s apparent that Lennart Fredriksson, in addition to the rich musical life that we’ve already touched upon, also works as a composer. If we study his CV a little further and lay our ignorance aside, we find that composing has always been part of his activities. He is mostly self-taught when it comes to writing music.

Fredriksson’s first entry on this
Phono Suecia CD is his Violin Concerto in one part, i.e., there are divisions in the work, though they are passed in fluidity, seamlessly, two times through cadenzas; except in the middle, between Arioso and Rondo, where a vibraphone teams up with the violin. On the CD cover three parts are indicated, but in the booklet four parts are mentioned, with the addition, there, of a concluding coda. Someone didn’t proofread enough, but then again, life is an approximation, Heisenberg and all!

The Violin Concerto has received high acclaim, even to the extremes of comparing it with Tor Aulin’s 3rd Violin Concerto (1896) and Lars-Erik Larsson’s Violin Concerto (1952). It is true that there is something grand and final about Lennart Fredriksson’s Concerto, which raises it above the incidental, immediately reserving for it a place among the greatest of its kind in Sweden. It is with pleasure I observe that Fredriksson has something to say, and that he isn’t swayed by trends or popular concerns when he says it. This unusual stamina is very rare in times when most composers only desperately seek new means of expression, not concerning themselves too much with what to express! Lennart Fredriksson is a liberator in this way, much the same way that Anders Eliasson is in a more modern language, or like Lars-Åke Franke-Blom, in a semi-modern classicism.

The Violin Concerto gears up instantly, the violin having first say, breathing in and rising out like a feather on the wind, spiraling up in a whirlwind that is reinforced with brass and percussion, standing around it like proud and determined figures out of the Icelandic Tales, until a second long breath raises momentum even higher, drums and brass and strings stretching, reaching like a ballet-dancer into a motion that soars towards the horizon.

A surprising modality opens up for cineaste analogies, as the music sways like a garden swing, calmly in a scene from a 1920s’ pastoral movie from the District of Småland of Sweden.

The feeling of summer clouds gently drifting up above, and human consciousnesses moving restlessly in a circuitry way down in the surface of the planet permeates the music as
Movement 1Preludio – draws to a close.

Danish coast-line seen fråm Råå, Skåne, Sweden
photograph: ingvar loco nordin

In Arioso a deeper emotion flows like dusk across the terrain, human minds soaring just above the topography like faint fragrances, and the title, of course, means something to the music and to my appreciation of it.
This is so beautiful – without being cheap or forgiving – that I really melt and accept it all, without the critic’s natural defense!
Amazingly, Lennart Fredriksson actually manages to speak a musical language that very much rests on tradition, yet expresses the present in unforgiving honesty and heartbreaking sincerity.
Some ways into
Arioso I hear stormy emotions not expressed in this might and lucidity since Max Bruch! It is due time!

Percussion is utilized in a cautiousness and exactitude – and flowering glare - that can only be compared to the percussive wizardry of some of Sven-Erik Bäck’s melodramas, inspiring a sense of fairytale and fable in the listener.

The vibraphone rolls quietly as the violin stretches into a thinned-out transparency, passing over into
Rondo, time holding its breath momentarily, duration as such waiting for something else to happen, that is bound to happen.
The music grows into a slab of moving matter, at times bouncing and pounding like giant machinery in a North Minnesota open cut mine in Hibbing's Mesabi Range, albeit in a total control that provides an insight into all the moving parts, the distribution of lubricants and the order of gear-wheel motions, i.e., all the individual instruments and their various expressivities clearly discernible in the overall, great auditive motion: a true testimony to great composition and great performance – as well as great recording and fine mixing!

The controlled force that I have given voice to above is not at all a dominating factor of
Rondo, because it eases out into a pondering, reflective nuance; intellectual and reasoning – although allowing for a hacking, cutting violin playing at times, in powder-dry staccati that pulls the whole orchestra along into stomping, marching statements in the Coda section, that in turn lets the violin up to the fore, where it moves in pirouettes and soloist persuasions of great technical difficulties in front of the orchestra.

Indeed a magnificent
Violin Concerto, which you can listen to hundreds of times and yet always return with new and more varied experiences!

The Trio-Sonata is here performed by its dedicatees, The Stockholm Arts Trio. The indications given by the composer in the score; Inquieto (restlessly) and Precipitando (precipitously) prepares us for a kind of unruly experience.
It begins abruptly, as if suddenly waking up, looking around in bewilderment, heart beating… A piano trio is a very classical formation, making you think of Vienna Classicism as well as Romanticism and also the likes of, say, Shostakovich. Here Fredriksson begins in a vein of the early 20th century, to explore further into this century in erratic, staccati spurs of piano and cello that perhaps swing by Béla Bartók or… Pierre Boulez!
Liveliness takes turns with reflective inwardness in this music. Frail moments are relieved by the sturdiest convictions! It’s unpredictable and capricious April music, sun shining forth between hasty clouds, snow flurries getting in your face and dark settling fast at night; scarves and Lakeland District sweaters!

the Trio-Sonata’s 2nd movement Canzone; Adagio - bliss rules to begin with, in a reflective and melancholy mood that may be fitting for anyone with enough years to his name, with enough mistakes and honest tries to ponder, sitting on the steps of a pavilion in an old and introspective orchard of October way back in life, the apple trees fading through time, grown with moss: gray gestures from past fertility. This spider walk lucidity through the durations grow denser after a while, grow sensitive with stronger feelings that fan out in the here and the now, impossible to fend off, like time rushing in all directions at the speed of light… The music is full with silent cries of desolation here, with the gruesome formations of lonely feelings and fast thoughts of escape, if only it was possible… Alban Berg’s String Quartet Op. 3 makes a gently dancing dream appearance in here, like a vision, a memory, a reminiscence deep inside the mind of the listener, ghostly, ghastly in its misty unreality…

The 3rd Movement kicks in with a speedy exposition of piano-beads meandering out like long locks of hair being untied by a young woman in a Renoir painting. The music runs hither and thither, hitting into furniture and people like someone in a nightmare or affected by drugs – or simply like someone in distress and panic… but eventually the progression slows down as if in mud or honey, making it hard to move your legs, and wonderfully colored butterflies of offered tones and chords ascend and flutter around your place in time. It ends there, with your feet in the mud and your head soaring up among the butterflies!

When I listened to
Sonata Scura for the first time, from this CD, I was watching a slideshow of a few hundred pictures I’d recently photographed on a 10-day Lapland mountain hike between Abisko and Vakkotavare, with deviations up summits and into sidetrack valleys. It dawned quickly upon me how indeed scenic and pastoral this music is – with dialects and accents familiar from other Nordic musics and ensembles like Juha KangasOstrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, even though we hear Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra here, with flying colors and jubilance.

Tjäktjajåkka widening between Singi and Kaitumjaure, Swedish Lapland
photograph: ingvar loco nordin

My mind was opened wide and ajar from the influences of the spaces of the North, and everything I experienced right after – for a few weeks, even – was clearer, stronger, somehow magnified and intensified… and also this music, especially Sonata Scura, with my nature photographs fading in and out of the realm of Lennart Fredriksson’s really very, very beautiful and devastatingly emotional music – without the overload of sentimentality. I respect a composer who can write this kind of music today, and fill me with a certainty of Godlike care in the end. Ah, in the Adagio you even hear Beethoven! I haven’t heard this writing for I don’t know how many years! I want to retreat into a Dostojevskij novel and stay there for the better part of the coming winter! And Fredriksson delivers no pastiche! He is for real, alive! The storm in the Presto impetuso blows me away! I swim and bathe in this clear water!

The CD commences with, and is concluded by,
Three Nocturnal Songs. In the booklet they’re called Three Night Songs, but I believe the better translation of Tre nattliga sånger is… Three Nocturnal Songs.
The texts are, in sequence, by Karin Boye, Viktor Rydberg and P-O Enquist, Per-Olof Enquist being the only contemporary, and a writer, which Lennart Fredriksson holds in great esteem. The song based on P-O Enquist’s text has also lent its title to the whole CD:
Not Yet Dawn. This song was premiered as recently as the fall of 2005 (this being written less than a year later).

The booklet text lets on that Lennart Fredriksson was working on a cello concerto in the spring of 2006, and based on the mighty and sometimes even devastating impression the works on this CD has made on me, I await
the Cello Concerto with great expectations.

Lady at the shore in Råå, Skåne, Sweden, watching Hven Island
photograph: ingvar loco nordin